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Bengal post poll violence: Supreme Court accedes to Centre’s hearing adjournment plea

MHA team conducts an investigation on post-poll violence in West Bengal, in Birbhum. File | Photo Credit: PTI
Legal Correspondent NEW DELHI 15 June 2021 17:33 IST
Updated: 15 June 2021 17:33 IST

Court was primarily hearing joint plea by families of 2 BJP activists, who were killed, allegedly in violence after Assembly polls

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to a request by the Union government to adjourn the hearing on the petitions seeking a CBI or a SIT (special investigation team) investigation into incidents of post poll violence in West Bengal.

Appearing before a Vacation Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M.R. Shah, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the court to schedule the hearing on June 18.

The court was primarily hearing a joint petition filed by the family members of BJP activists Abhijit Sarkar and Haran Adhikari, who were killed, allegedly in the violence following the Assembly polls in May.


‘Total inaction’

The families have alleged “total inaction” and even “subversion” of the investigation by the State administration and police.

The State government has replied that FIRs had been registered and several arrests made in connection with the murders.

In an affidavit filed on Monday on allegations of State complicity in the post poll violence, the Mamata Banerjee government maintained that these were “concocted stories” spread on social media by miscreants.

It said, “It is untenable to categorise each and every act of violence following the declaration of elections results as ‘post-poll violence’ while adopting a premise that such violence is ongoing in West Bengal to which the State machinery is turning a blind eye”. False allegations of State complicity was drawn on the basis of hearsay reports disseminated on social media by miscreants. The apex court was misled about the law and order situation. The petitions “reek of political motivation”, it said.

The petitions had highlighted need for providing immediate relief to the internally displaced persons affected by the violence.

The State said, “No person can be forced to stay away from his/her house, as it is their inherent right to live in their houses peacefully”. The petitions in the Supreme Court conveyed a “misleading narrative” while a five-judge Bench of the Calcutta High Court was already hearing a gamut of issues arising from the “alleged post-poll violence”. The High Court had been passing effective orders in the case, it noted.

“Our High Courts are High Courts. Each High Court has its own traditions. They have judges of eminence who have initiative, skills and enthusiasm…” it quoted from a Supreme Court judgment in the P.N. Kumar case of 1987. Three detailed counter-affidavits were filed in the High Courts on the FIRs registered and arrests made.

Panel to monitor situation

The State said a three-member committee of officers nominated by the National Human Rights Commission, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission and the Member Secretary of the West Bengal State Legal Service Authority had been formed to monitor the situation on the ground.

Allegations of police inaction were “frivolous”. In fact, violence had “drastically reduced” with the new government in place following the lifting of the Model Code of Conduct. The situation was “normal” at present, it claimed. On May 5, the Chief Minister issued strict instructions to prevent post poll clashes and violence and take strict action against the troublemakers. A centralised online mechanism was in place for taking complaints, it stated.