Rights Panel Probing Post-Poll Violence Biased, Bengal Tells Court

Criticising Mamata Banerjee government, the panel's report says the situation in the state is manifestation of "law of ruler instead of rule of law"

Rights Panel Probing Post-Poll Violence Biased, Bengal Tells Court

The Trinamool Congress government submitted the affidavit in Calculta High Court Monday. File

Kolkata:

The Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal has alleged in an affidavit filed before the Calcutta High Court that the National Human Rights Council (NHRC) committee which probed incidents of post-poll violence in the state "was fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation".

The affidavit, submitted to the court on Monday, also claimed that members of the panel share close ties with BJP leaders.

Criticising the Mamata Banerjee government, the NHRC panel, in its report placed before the high court recently, has underscored that "the situation in the state is a manifestation of law of ruler instead of rule of law".

It recommended a CBI probe into "grievous offences like murder and rape".

Contradicting the findings of the panel, which was set up by its chairman on the order of the court, the Trinamool government's affidavit said members of the committee "have close association with the Bharatiya Janata Party and/or the central government".

"The formation of the committee and the purported field teams are fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation in the state of West Bengal.

"It will be evident that the committee has been deliberately constituted to spearhead a witch hunt against the entire state machinery in West Bengal," the affidavit maintained.

The matter is scheduled to be taken up for hearing on Wednesday by a five-judge bench of the high court, presided by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal.

The state government, in its affidavit, has further claimed that the NHRC "chairperson has abused the process of this honourable court and appointed only those members who are interested in conducting a hatchet job against a democratically elected government".

It said that such members who have an "inherent bias" against the ruling dispensation were chosen and accordingly "predisposed to give a negative report" on the law-and-order situation.

Under such circumstances, the credibility of the panel to investigate in an "unbiased and neutral manner" is questionable, the state government pointed out.

It noted that the committee head, Rajiv Jain, had served as the director of Intelligence Bureau under the incumbent BJP government.

He was the subsidiary Intelligence Bureau chief in Ahmedabad from 2005 to 2008, when "Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and Amit Shah a minister", the affidavit explained.

It said that another member Atif Rasheed, a former president of ABVP students' union in Satyawati College, had contested the Delhi Municipal elections in 2021 on a BJP ticket.

Contending that the state government was not given an opportunity to be heard, the affidavit said the "report ought not to be considered by this honourable court".

Denying the allegation that the entire state machinery in West Bengal is responsible for post-poll violence, it submitted that the "police and all other competent officers of the State of West Bengal have taken all steps to prevent any violence after the declaration of results for the West Bengal State Legislative Assembly on May 2".

Several PILs filed before the high court claimed that people were subjected to assault, made to flee homes, and property was destroyed in pockets of Bengal, following the announcement of assembly poll results.

Maintaining that the acts of violence resulted in disruption of life and livelihood of thousands of people, the NHRC committee report said "the local police has been grossly derelict, if not complicit, in this violence".

"The spate of violence shows a pernicious politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus. Moreover, this violence also attacked some pillars of democracy including rule of law, political pluralism and free, fair and secure polling," the report added.