The West Bengal government is in denial about the violence that took place in the state in May after the declaration of Assembly election results, the Calcutta High Court said on Friday, according to Live Law.
The court has been hearing petitions seeking an independent inquiry into the violence. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the ruling Trinamool Congress have blamed each other for the deaths of multiple party workers. Various news reports put the toll between 11 and 14, but the police did not confirm the numbers.
After studying a report submitted by a seven-member panel of the National Human Rights Commission, the court noted that killings and sexual assaults happened in the state in May.
“From a perusal of the report prima facie stand taken by the petitioners is established that there had been post poll violence and the state was found on a wrong foot, where throughout it was on a denial mode,” a five-judge bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar said, according to Live Law.
The bench said that the violence had also forced people to leave their homes. It pulled up the state government for not assuring people that they could return safely.
The Calcutta High Court criticised the police for not registering complaints related to the violence. “It shows there is more to conceal than to reveal,” it said, according to Live Law.
The court noted that in some cases, the police only filed complaints after the court’s intervention. “Investigation of the cases registered was in slip shod manner and hardly any arrests were made in such heinous crimes,” it added, according to Live Law. “Some of the cases have not been registered although prima facie they disclosed commission of cognisable offence. In most of the cases accused have been bailed out.”
During the hearing, the court ordered the West Bengal Police to register cases based on the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission in its report. The contents of the document have not been made public.
The NHRC committee had submitted the brief report to the High Court on June 30. It had sought more time to visit all violence-affected areas and submit a comprehensive document.
On June 18, the High Court had directed the NHRC to set up the seven-member committee to probe the matter. NHRC chairperson Justice (Retired) Arun Mishra had set up the committee on June 21. On the same day, the High Court bench refused to recall its order asking the rights body to examine complaints. The West Bengal government had urged the court to recall or modify its order.
The Supreme Court has also issued a notice to the Centre, the Election Commission of India and the West Bengal government on a petition seeking a Special Investigation Team inquiry into the violence. The petitioner, advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, alleged that Trinamool Congress supporters had raped women and looted the belongings of Hindus “for the simple reason that they had supported BJP” in the polls.