Calcutta High Court reserves verdict in Bengal post-poll violence case

State government alleges bias on the part of three members of NHRC’s probe committee

August 03, 2021 10:44 pm | Updated 10:44 pm IST - KOLKATA

Senior Counsel for the State government Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged bias on the part of three members of the NHRC committee and overarching antagonism by the Centre against executives of the State. File

Senior Counsel for the State government Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged bias on the part of three members of the NHRC committee and overarching antagonism by the Centre against executives of the State. File

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict in a case concerning the post-poll violence in the State.

A five-judge bench of the High Court headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal has been hearing a number of public interest litigation petitions in this connection.

The bench had on June 18 directed the National Human Rights Commission to constitute a committee to probe the allegations. The NHRC report submitted on July 13 had severely criticised the State government, the police and the State administration, alleging that what followed after the Assembly election results were declared on May 2 was “retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main Opposition party [the Bharatiya Janata Party]”.

The State government, in response, had called the allegations “sweeping homilies, absurd, and false” and said the formation of the Committee and the purported field teams was “fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation in the State of West Bengal”.

Also read: NHRC disrespected court, should not have leaked report on Bengal post-poll violence to media: Mamata Banerjee

During the hearing on Tuesday, Senior Counsel for the State government Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged bias on the part of three members of the NHRC committee and overarching antagonism by the Centre against executives of the State. State’s Advocate General Kishor Dutta, while arguing that the NHRC had exceeded its mandate, said that 268 suo motu cases were registered by the police.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani said complaints were not registered in several cases and accused the local police of “inept performance”. He prayed for handing over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation as suggested by the NHRC committee.

“There can be a probe by the CBI, NIA or a special investigation team, but not West Bengal police, as the allegations are against the police,” Priyanka Tibrewal, one of the counsel representing the accused told journalists.

The allegations of post-poll violence after the Trinamool Congress government came to power for the third consecutive time in May 2021 had created a flutter in social and political circles. The State government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had denied the allegations, stating that they were only a few stray incidents when the administration was under the Election Commission of India.

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