Kolkata: Following the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Kolkata High Court has now sought a detailed report from the state government in West Bengal about the steps taken to curb the violence in the aftermath of the Assembly elections in the state.
In an unprecedented move on Friday, May 7, the HC constituted a five judge bench led by the Chief Justice of the high court to look into post-poll atrocities. The decision was taken following a public interest litigation filed by Advocate Anindya Sundar Das, requesting a stop to the brazen violence that has engulfed the state after the election results were declared on May 2. The case proceedings are taking place through video conferencing.
The proceedings were first tried in the court of acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee. However, the Additional Solicitor General of the central government raised a slew of questions about the subject of the case.
In the filed PIL, it has been specifically suggested to constitute a Special Investigation Team under the direction of Kolkata High Court, and to compensate the victims of the terror. It argues that Opposition party activists have faced the brunt of the attacks, even though members of the ruling party have also faced attacks in some instances as per reports. The PIL also highlights the religious affinity of those attacked as the basis of terror launched in some places.
Also read: 11 Dead, Several Rendered Homeless in Bengal Post-Poll Violence
The case was taken up around 2 p.m. in the afternoon by the bench of Acting Chief Justice, who understanding its ramifications directed to constitute a five-judge bench to try the case. Usually, such decisions are reserved for extremely important cases or affairs of interest.
The five judge bench includes Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, and justices IP Mukherjee, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar. As there are no vacation benches owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the litigation will be heard next on Monday, May 10. Appearing for the appellant side were Advocates Udayshankar Chatterjee, Santanu Majhi, Payel Shom and Praloy Basak.
Since the election results were declared on May 2, widespread violence allegedly directed against opposition party workers have been reported in the state. So far, 16 persons have been reportedly killed in violent incidences in the last seven days.
On Thursday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) activist Dipak Sharma was attacked by alleged members of Trinamool Congress and is now fighting for life in at Siliguri Hospital. The incident took place in Chopra area of North Dinajpur district. The victim’s father Abaru Sharma is the branch secretary of CPI(M) in his locality and had taken part in the elections as the polling agent of the Sanjukto Morcha candidate in Chopra.
Further, fines have been reportedly imposed on Left and Sanjukto Morcha activists throughout the state. A looting spree is also continuing in the state as per latest reports. Notably, CPI(M)’s Kakali Khetrapal and Indian Secular Front’s (ISF) Hasanujjaman have reportedly been butchered in the violence earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced stern measures being taken against such violence during the swearing-in ceremony, but the incidents have continued unabated, as per reports.
Earlier, the central government sent a special four member fact-finding team to the state in view of the incidents transpiring following the poll results. The team has sought a report from the Governor of the state about the incidences.