[Bengal Post Poll Violence] Cal HC | State from very beginning had been denying everything, the way State was proceeding in matter, did not inspire confidence; NHRC constitutes committee to examine complaints

Calcutta High Court: Full Bench of Rajesh Bindal, C.J.(A), I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, Subrata Talukdar, JJ., on 18-06-2021 heard a series of petitions which dealt with the issue of the number of persons been made to run away from their houses to save their lives and are not being allowed to come back. The Court had given liberty to send complaints to the official e-mail ID of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority and reinstatement had to be done e in the presence of a Committee of the officers nominated by the National Human Rights Commission and the West Bengal State Human Rights Commission and the Member Secretary of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority.

The Court opined that in a case like where the allegation is that life and property of the residents of the State is in danger on account of alleged post poll violence, the State cannot be allowed to proceed in the manner it likes. The complaints required immediate action. The Court found that such an action was missing and it was the duty of the State to maintain law and order in the State and inspire confidence in the residents of the State.  The Court further added that, “State from the very beginning had been denying everything but the facts as having been placed on record by the petitioners and also as is evident little bit from the report dated June 3, 2021, filed by the Member Secretary of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority, are different.”

The Court held that keeping in view the fact that there was infrastructure available with the NHRC, directed the Chairperson to constitute a Committee of which the Member Secretary of State Legal Services Authority shall be a member, to examine all the cases, the complaints of which have already been received by the Commission or which may be received. The Matter was adjourned to 30-06-2021.

On 21-06-2021 the Bench dismissed all the petitions which were filed by the State for recalling/modifying the order dated 18-06-2021.

It was contended that the State was not given any opportunity to place complete facts before the Court. In fact, the State had taken appropriate action. Counsel for the non-applicants had raised serious objections to the prayers made in the applications. Arguments raised are that considering the conduct of the State, ever since this Court had taken cognizance of the matter, this Court was constrained to pass the order directing the National Human Rights Commission along with the representatives from the State Human Rights Commission and the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority to go into the various complaints filed by the different persons.

The Court found that no case is made out for recalling, modification or stay of the order passed by this Court on 18-06-2021. The Court added that the way the State was proceeding in the matter which required immediate action, did not inspire confidence. Whatever information the State now wants to produce with reference to the complaints, may be placed before the National Human Rights Commission, which is to examine all the complaints along with the information supplied by the State and submit a report before this Court.

On 21-06-2021 Chairperson, NHRC constituted a Committee to be headed by Mr Rajiv Jain, Member, NHRC to enquire into complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal.

The Committee is as under:

  1. Shri Rajiv Jain, Member, NHRC, head of the Committee.
  2. Shri Atif Rasheed, Vice Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities.
  3. Smt. (Dr.) Rajulben L. Desai, Member, National Commission for Women.
  4. Shri Santosh Mehra, Director General (Investigation), NHRC.
  5. Shri Pradip Kumar Panja, Registrar, West Bengal State Human Rights Commission.
  6. Shri Raju Mukherjee, Member Secretary, West Bengal State Legal Services Authority.
  7. Smt. Manzil Saini, DIG (Investigation), NHRC.

As per the directions of the High Court:-

a) This Committee shall examine all cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal, complaints about which have already been received in the National Human Rights Commission or which may be received.

b) The Committee shall also examine the complaints which have been received by the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority and also further complaints that may be received by the Legal Services Authority.

c) The cases shall be examined, including by visiting the affected areas and shall submit a comprehensive report to the High Court of Calcutta about the present situation and also steps to be taken to ensure confidence of the people that they can peacefully live in their houses and also carry on their occupation or business to earn their livelihood.

d) The Committee shall also point out the persons, prima-facie, responsible for crime and the officers who maintained calculated silence on the issue.

[Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India, WPA(P) 142 of 2021, decided on 18-06-2021 & 21-06-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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