[West Bengal Post Poll Violence] Calcutta High Court Allows Aggrieved Persons To Approach NHRC, NCW Etc

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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the West Bengal Government for a shoddy response in the plea’s concerning post-poll violence that engulfed the state recently.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice IP Mukerji, Justice Harish Tandon, Justice Soumen Sen & Justice Subrata Talukdar granted liberty to persons aggrieved of post poll violence to approach NHRC, WBHRC, NCW & National Commission for Schedule Castes & Schedule Tribes.

"If any person has suffered on account of post-poll violence, he shall be at liberty to file complaint along with the supporting documents to the National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The same can be either by way of hard copy or online. The aforesaid commissions in turn will forward those complaints to the Director General of Police, West Bengal immediately.", the Court said.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had requested the learned Advocate General to apprise the Court about any designated e-mail id to enable the aggrieved persons to lodge their complaints online.
In this context, court directed that the same be created to record the specific instances of violence. 
The same was passed on the petitioner's allegation that they were not permitted to lodge complaints in the police station and in some cases they were unable to do so as that they had to run away from their places of residence. 

The Court had also directed the National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, to forward the complaints that these bodies received with reference to post-poll violence in the State of West Bengal to the official e-mail id of the Director General of Police, West Bengal. 

A plea has been filed by activist Susheel Kumar on behalf of internally displaced persons in West Bengal due to the violence that erupted across the state would be argued by Advocate J Sai Deepak.

One of plea(s) stated,

“the State of West Bengal is currently is crippled by the political clashes post the declaration of the results for the Assembly elections resulting in such massive loss of life and property that same has stirred the conscience of the Petitioner as also a large number of citizens across the country.”

The petitioner averred that on 2nd May, 2021 the results of the elections were announced and thereafter the very same day violence broke out in parts of West Bengal even as trends and results poured in from assembly elections.

“The houses and vehicles of some political party workers other than those belonging to TMC were allegedly attacked and a party office at Arambagh was set ablaze. The reports reflect that people are being killed, beaten up, attacked, sexually molested and treated mercilessly and there is complete breakdown of law and order across various districts of the State of West Bengal. Mass scale violence post-election result declaration has also been widely reported in various newspapers and media portals.” – stated the plea.

The other plea preferred by activist Sushil Kumar stated that the unprecedented state of affairs in West Bengal satisfy the ingredients of Article 355 at the very least & thereby warrant the urgent intervention of this Court & for immediate deployment of central forces owing to the partisan conduct of the state & law & order machinery. 

"As a consequence of this pogrom, thousands of people, reportedly close to 80,000, all or most of whom are or are suspected of being supporters of the opposition parties, have fled to neighbouring States such as Assam, which showcases the utter & deliberate failure of the state machinery to protect their fundamental rights", the plea states.

The petitioner has also averred that the state administration & its police authorities have failed and/ or neglected to clamp down on the unruly elements & have refused to register complaints of several instances, thereby leading to institutionalised violence & destruction of the democratic fabric of the state.

In this context, the petitioner contended that since the state administration have failed to restore peace & maintain law & order in the aftermath of the election despite several pleas & numerous news reports, it is imperative that for this Hon'ble Court to grant the relief sought by the petitioner. 

In light of the above, the petitioner had sought for issuing directions to State of West Bengal to: 

  • File a report on the steps taken to deal with violence from May 2, 2021 after the declaration of election results
  • Show cause for not registering police complaint & FIR's of victims despite reporting exodus of at least 80,000 people from the State to the neighbouring states such as Assam & for sexual assault of the women in the state despite confirmation of such instances by the National Commission for Women
  • Immediately arrest & prosecute all individuals involved/ and responsible for commission of heinous offences in the aftermath of West Bengal assembly election
  • Provide adequate compensation over & above the compensation already declared to the families & or heirs of the victims who have lost their lives due to the failure of the State to protect the life & property of the people of West Bengal

Further, the petitioner had also prayed for issuing directions to Union of India to deploy Central protection forces for restoration of law & order in the state of West Bengal & for constitution of a special Bench or designation of a special court to adjudicate & dispose of the matters pertaining to prosecution of all individuals or organisation involved in commission of heinous offences in pursuance of political pogrom unleashed on May 2, 2021.

The matter will be heard now by the Bench on 25 th May at 2:00 PM.