West Bengal Violence- “Erosion of rule of law & breakdown of institutional frameworks”: 2093 women Advocates write to CJI Ramana seeking intervention

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Women Lawyers across the country including the States of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have written a letter to the CJI, drawing attention to the deplorable condition of citizens residing in the State of West Bengal due to post poll violence on 02.05.2021; calls it "Erosion of Rule of Law" and "Institutional Breakdown in the State of West Bengal"

"Local administration/police authorities/goons of political parties are hand in gloves, are intimidating the complainants/victim to withdraw their complaints. The complainants, whose complaints are forwarded by National Human Rights Commission, are threatened by local police. They have strong apprehensions of further assaults on them as the local police is sharing all details with the ruling party. There are instances when even lawyers, who are helping these complainants, are threatened with dire consequences. Family members of complainants are getting threatening with murder and rape. These people need immediate protection of iron hands of the law", the letter states.

Prayer sought:

  1. Constitute a Special Investigation Team to register FIRs and investigate into the deaths and other vengeful attacks as being reported in news.
  2. Direct a nodal officer to be appointed (not belonging to West Bengal Police) to register the complaints of the victims.
  3. Direct court monitored investigation in a time bound manner, trial by specially constituted fast track court wherever charge sheet is filed by the SIT.
  4. Issue Directions that all post poll violence victims/family members may be duly compensated for death /injuries, loss of property etc. by the State of West Bengal.
  5. DGP of the State of West Bengal may kindly be directed to set up an effective complaint mechanism at all levels on priority basis and to file a daily report before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
  6. Direction may be issued to the Director General of Police of the State of West Bengal to provide full protection to the victims.
  7. Directions may be issued to all Commissions; National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, National Commission for protection of Child Rights, Commission of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Backward classes to appoint competent nodal officers to record the statements of victims through virtual mode and contact numbers of those nodal officers be widely circulated.

The letter classifies the entire incident into 5 categories, namely, Incidents of Crimes (i) Against Women (ii) Against Children (iii) Against SC/ST and OBCs (iv) Mass Exodus to Neighbouring States (v) Other Heinous Crimes

For deliberate inaction on the part of police and State authorities, reliance is placed on the order dated 10.05.2021 and 18.05.2021, of Calcutta High Court in Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India, WPA (P) 143 of 2021;

"…In number of cases the complaints were not registered by the police stations concerned when approached. Mr. Dastoor had further raised an issue that there is no online mechanism available in the State of West Bengal where a complainant can file a complaint to the police. Number of complaints have been received in the office of National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission and also the National Commission for Women and also National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes raising issues regarding post-poll violence in the State."

"It was further directed by us in the previous order that the National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which had received number of complaints with reference to post-poll violence in the State of West Bengal should forward those to the official e-mail id of the Director General of Police, West Bengal. The information as regards the number of complaints received by the Director General of Police from the aforesaid Commissions has not been furnished in Court. Request has been for grant of time to furnish this information."

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