Bengal post-poll violence: HC orders second autopsy of BJP leader’s body

HC also issues show-cause notice to a deputy commissioner of Kolkata Police, asking why contempt proceedings shouldn't be initiated against him

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As of August 1, the Calcutta High Court has 41 posts of judges lying vacant, which is 56 per cent of its total strength of 72.

Taking note of an interim report of an National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) committee ordered by it to probe post-poll violence in West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court (HC), on July 2, directed the second autopsy of a BJP labour wing leader. HC also issued a show-cause notice to a deputy commissioner of the Kolkata Police as to why contempt proceedings will not be initiated against him.

The BJP trade union leader was allegedly killed in the post-poll violence in Kolkata. A five-judge bench hearing a bunch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) alleging atrocities in post-poll violence in the state accepted a request by the committee for further time to investigate while maintaining that early action in the matter is expected as delay may destroy evidence.

“Let a notice be issued to Rashid Munir Khan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Suburban Division, Kolkata to show cause as to why proceedings for contempt be not initiated against him for violation of the order passed by this court on June 18, 2021,” the bench ordered.

The interim report mentioned that Atif Rasheed, a member of the committee, was obstructed from discharging his duty when he and his team members were attacked by goons, on June 29, in the Jadavpur area, which falls under the city polices South Suburban Division, the court noted.

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Also read: Modi speaks to Bengal governor over post-poll violence; BJP moves SC

The high court, on June 18, directed the NHRC to set up a committee to examine all cases concerning alleged human rights violations during post-poll violence in West Bengal. The court directed the state government to provide all logistic support to the committee wherever and whenever they wish to visit any place and to ensure no obstruction of any kind in this process.

“Such obstruction will be viewed seriously, which may entail action under the Contempt of Courts Act besides others,” the bench said in its order.

The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar, directed the police to register cases in all matters that have either been reported to it or have been placed before the NHRC or any other authority.

The court directed that steps need to be taken to get the statements of the victims recorded under Section 164 CrPC immediately, as per law. It ordered a second autopsy of Abhijit Sarkar, vice president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Trade Union Council in Kolkata, whose body is lying in the mortuary of a hospital, by a team of doctors to be constituted by the head of the Command Hospital there.

The family of Sarkar demanded a second autopsy, which was not acceded to by the police and the administration. The state was directed to make all arrangements for medical treatment of all who have been injured in the violence, post assembly elections.

The bench ordered that the information asked for by the committee from different authorities of the state be supplied immediately, maintaining that any delay may call for an adverse inference.

“From a perusal of the report prima facie stand taken by the petitioners is established that there had been post-poll violence and the state was found on a wrong foot, where throughout it was on a denial mode,” the bench observed.

The committee filed an initial report in a sealed cover before the court on June 30 as per its direction. The bench said that a perusal of the report established the allegations of the petitioners in the PIL that several persons were killed in the violence and many suffered sexual violence and grievous injuries, including minor girls who were ‘brutally sexually assaulted’.

Also read: Bengal in ‘denial mode’ about poll-election violence: Calcutta HC

A bunch of PILs filed before the high court had alleged displacement of people from their residences, physical assault, destruction of property and ransacking of places of business owing to post-poll violence in the state.

The five-judge bench had directed that the committee will examine all the cases, the complaints of which have already been received by the NHRC or which may be received, and ‘maybe by visiting the affected areas’ submit a comprehensive report before it about the present situation.

“The committee also suggested the steps needed to be taken to ensure the confidence of the people and so that they can peacefully live in their houses and also carry on their occupation or business to earn their livelihood,” the bench directed.

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