Bengal post-poll violence: CBI probe into serious crimes sought in HC

KOLKATA: Petitioners seeking an independent probe into the alleged post-poll violence in West Bengal on Monday prayed before the Calcutta High Court that it hand over the investigation of serious crimes like rape and murder to the CBI as per the NHRC enquiry committee’s recommendation.

The lawyer representing the state police opposed the prayer for CBI investigation claiming that the report of the panel formed by the NHRC chairperson on a direction by a five-judge bench of the high court was baseless and politically motivated.

Citing the NHRC committee’s report wherein it was stated that complaints were not registered in several cases and “inept performance of local police”, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing one of the petitioners, prayed for handing over the investigation to the CBI as per the report.

ALSO READ | Hinting at 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Mamata Banerjee says entire country to witness ‘khela’ in near future

He submitted that the state’s claims on violence and crimes against women do not match the findings of the committee, which he said are much higher than the government’s figures.

Appearing for the state police, senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that the report was biased and that some of the members of the committee were linked to the BJP.

In its final report submitted on July 13 before the five-judge bench, the committee had said, “This was retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party”, and recommended a CBI probe into “grievous offences like rape and murder”.

Praying for their addition as parties in the matter, lawyers representing state Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick and Trinamool Congress MLA Partha Bhowmick submitted that without interacting with them, the NHRC committee had put names resembling theirs in a list of “notorious criminals” in an annexure to its report.

The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar directed that hearing of the PILs will continue on Tuesday.