“Under these circumstances, we direct NHRC to constitute a committee to examine the complaints”: Calcutta HC on post poll violence in West Bengal

News Desk: The State government is duty bound to maintain law and order, the Calcutta High Court said on Friday as it ordered the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to constitute a committee to examine complaints by persons displaced by post poll violence in West Bengal.

A 5-judge Bench headed by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal said while the State government has been denying instance of post poll violence from the very beginning, the petitions filed by certain affected parties and a report submitted by the State Legal Services Secretary in this regard, painted a different picture.

“It is the duty of the State to maintain law and order and to inspire confidence in the residents. The State from the very beginning had been denying everything but facts on record and report by State Legal Services Authority show differently,” the Court said.

The State cannot be allowed to proceed in the manner it likes but somehow from facts available on record such action is missing, the Court added.

“Under these circumstances, we direct NHRC to constitute a committee to examine the complaints,” the Court directed.

The committee shall examine all the cases by visiting the areas and report to this court about steps to be taken to reinstate the confidence of the people, it further said.

The Court was hearing a bunch of petitions alleging that many people from opposition were subject to violence after the ruling All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) swept to power in the 2021 assembly elections.

Many of them had to flee their houses due to the violence and they were not being allowed to return, the petitions said.

During the previous hearing on May 31, the High Court had ordered the formation of a three-member committee to ensure that persons displaced by post-poll violence in West Bengal are able to return to their houses.

The three-member committee was to comprise of Member Secretary of West Bengal State Legal Services Authority (WBSLSA), the West Bengal Human Rights Commission and the NHRC.

The affected parties were directed to lodge complaints with the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority and the Committee was to examine them and take steps to ensure that people are allowed to return to their house.

The WBSLSA then submitted a report to the Court detailing the complaints received by them and the effects of post poll violence.

The Court recorded the following about the report of the WBSLSA.

“The number of persons reported to have suffered as per complaints received is 3,243. In a number of cases, the complaints were referred to concerned Police station but no response was received.”

It, therefore, proceeded to order NHRC intervention while also directing the State to ensure that the NHRC committee be provided necessary assistance to visit affected areas.

“Obstruction to the same may amount to contempt of this court and will be viewed seriously and entail action under Contempt of Courts Act,” the Court said.

The case will be heard again on June 30.

On Friday, Supreme Court Judge Justice Indira Banerjee recused from hearing a plea field by kin of two BJP workers, who were killed in poll related violence on May 2 in West Bengal, seeking court monitored probe and transfer of cases to CBI or Special Investigation Team (SIT).