New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will on September 20 hear a plea of the West Bengal government challenging the Calcutta High Court order directing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into violence in heinous cases of murder and rape following the assembly elections in West Bengal.
A Bench headed by Justice Vineet Saran adjourned the matter for Monday next and sought a complete chart of members of the inquiry committee. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the state of West Bengal argued how the members of the panel conducting an inquiry into post-poll violence cases “had an affiliation to a political party”.
“Can you imagine these people have been appointed to collect the data? Is this a BJP investigating committee?” he asked.
He said the members are still posting posts related to BJP and asked how can chairman of the Human Rights Committee appoint such members. The Bench then observed that if somebody had a political past and “if he lands up in an official position by that very fact will we treat him to be biased?”
The West Bengal government had approached the top court against the High Court order saying it did not expect fair and just investigation by the central agency which is busy foisting cases against the functionaries of the ruling Trinamool Congress Party.
“Past experience in the state has shown that CBI cannot function independently and is often invoked as a tool to persecute officials of the state government, public servants, and representatives of the people in the state. An honest and impartial investigation cannot be expected from the CBI especially in the context of the state of West Bengal. It is not out of place to mention that CBI has been chastised by different High Courts across states for its evident lack of independence and has been rightly described as a “caged parrot”,” the appeal said.
The CBI’s “track record in filing timely charge sheet and achieving convictions is woefully poor,” West Bengal government said.
Earlier, one of the petitioner in the case before the High Court, advocate Anindya Sundar Das had filed a caveat had filed a caveat application in Supreme Court in connection with the case.
A caveat application is filed by a litigant to ensure that no adverse order is passed against him or her without being heard.
The High Court while observing that there are “definite and proved” allegations that complaints of the victims of violence in the aftermath of the West Bengal assembly polls were not even registered, ordered a CBI investigation in all alleged cases of heinous crimes like rape and murder.
For other cases related to post-poll violence, a five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) of three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of the West Bengal cadre.
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The High Court while ordering the setting up of an SIT to probe all other cases, had said that it will include Suman Bala Sahoo, Soumen Mitra and Ranveer Kumar, all IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre.
A seven-member committee set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had earlier looked into the incidents of violence following the West Bengal assembly elections and recommended a court-monitored CBI probe.
The NHRC, in its report on the alleged post-election violence in West Bengal submitted to Calcutta High Court, stated that “spatio-temporal expanse of violent incidents in the state reflects appalling apathy of the state government towards the plight of victims”.
The High Court, while accepting the recommendations of NHRC panel for CBI probe, said the Court will monitor the investigations by both the CBI and the SIT and asked the two agencies to submit status reports to the court within six weeks. Several Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed before the High Court calling for an investigation into the violence.
The pleas said that hundreds had been subjected to assault, made to flee their houses, and that property was destroyed in the days following the announcement of results of the Bengal polls.
The results of assembly polls in Bengal were declared on May 2. Violent incidents were reported after supporters of TMC and BJP allegedly clashed in various parts of the state since May 2, killing many people and triggering an alleged exodus.
A four-member team deputed by the Ministry of Home Affairs had also visited the post-poll violence-affected areas.