On Thursday, August 19, 2021, the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court handed over the probe of the post-poll violence in Bengal that occurred on May 2021 soon after the declaration of the assembly election results, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The verdict was given by a 5-member bench headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal, regarding a batch of petitions alleging state inaction against the act of violence unleashed by the members of the ruling party – Trinamool Congress on the people who supported the BJP during the elections.
As for the other criminal cases related to post-election violence, the Court ordered that they be investigated by a Special Investigating Team under the Court’s oversight.
The court ordered the West Bengal government to immediately process the compensation for the victims of post-election violence. The Court also dismissed allegations of bias which was raised by the State Government against the National Human Rights Commission, whose team had submitted its findings regarding the case as instructed by the court.
The court has asked The CBI and the SIT to submit a status report to the Court within six weeks. A number of petitions were filed before the Calcutta HC earlier this year, alleging increased post-poll violence in the state following the stunning return to power of the Trinamool Congress on May 2.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had set up a committee as instructed by the Calcutta HC to investigate various complaints regarding the post-poll violence in West Bengal. The victims had put up serious allegations of murder, rape, and vandalism against the perpetrators of the alleged violence.
On July 15, the team of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) who were investigating the post-poll violence in West Bengal had submitted a 50 pages final report to the Calcutta HC referred to the situation in the state- a manifestation of the law of the ruler instead of the rule of law.
The committee said in its final report, “This was a retributive violence against the opposition’s supporters by the supporters of the ruling party”. It further recommended that serious cases such as rape and murder should be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and that cases should be heard outside the state.
Kapil Sibal, who appeared on behalf of the West Bengal police, argued that the NHRC report was “politically motivated” and that other members of the fact-finding committee had links to the BJP.
The allegations of the post-poll violence sparked a war of words between the BJP and TMC. While BJP accused TMC of targeting its supporters and workers, the TMC responded by saying that BJP workers were targeting their own.
The matter will be re-examined by the Court on October 24.