Post-poll violence: Bengal charges NHRC panel with ‘apparent bias’

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File  

The West Bengal government on Monday accused a committee appointed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to look into “post-poll violence” in the State of “apparent bias”.

The accusation was made by the State in the Supreme Court during the hearing of its appeal challenging a five-judge Bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court transferring the investigation of the cases, involving murder and rape, to the CBI. The High Court, on August 19, had directed the State to immediately pay compensation to the victims of the crime.

The High Court’s judgment was based on the findings of the NHRC committee on July 12.

West Bengal argued that the members of the committee were either “members of the Bharatiya Janata Party or were closely associated” with it. It named two members, Atif Rasheed and Rajulben L. Desai, in this regard. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for West Bengal, orally referred to another member, Rajiv Jain, during the hearing though the State’s petition did not refer to him.

“Can you imagine these people have been appointed to collect the data? Is this a BJP investigation committee?” Mr. Sibal asked the court.

But the Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose asked whether a person’s political past could be treated as conclusive proof of bias.

The court scheduled the case for further hearing on September 20.

“The inclusion of the aforesaid members in the committee indeed gave rise to a reasonable likelihood of bias and vitiated the independence of the entire committee, especially given their admitted leadership position within the committee and their rank when compared to others,” the petition said.

It contended that transfer of cases to the CBI should be done only in “rare and exceptional cases” and not because unsubstantiated allegations have been levelled against the local police.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:24:14 PM |

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