Supreme Court hears pleas on post-poll violence in West Bengal and the Narada case


Petitioners ask for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe and humanitarian relief for the victims of post-poll violence that occurred after the election results were declared on May 2, 2021.

DELHI- The Supreme Court’s (SC) Vacation Bench presided by Justice Vineet Saran and BR Gavai have sought a response from the West Bengal government on May 25, 2021, in the matter of post-poll violence. The matter will be heard again on June 7.

The plea was filed on May 21, 2021, seeking directions from the apex court to prevent the exodus of the people due to the “state-sponsored violence” posing a “serious humanitarian issues” amidst Covid-19. 

On the oral plea of the advocate on record for the petitioner, Pinky Anand, the bench also asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Women and Children to be additional respondents to the plea. 

Senior Advocate Anand said that she is seeking “humanitarian relief” for those who have been displaced. She requested the bench to ask human rights commissions to ask for the reports they have released on the matter. 

The West Bengal Assembly election results were declared on May 2, 2021, after which there were state-wide reports of violence against party workers hailing from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Meanwhile, another plea seeking an SIT probe into the matter of the deceased Bengal BJP worker, Abhijit Sarkar and a Bengal BJP booth worker, Haran Adhikari was heard by the bench. The plea was filed by Biswajit Sarkar, brother of Abhijit Sarkar to seek a probe into the killings. 

Justice Saran said he will be issuing a notice as a counter has not been filed by the State yet. He asked the State’s advocate, “In how much time will you file a counter?” 

The SC’s Vacation Bench presided by Justice Vineet Saran and BR Gavai had issued a notice to the government last week, May 18, into the killing of the two BJP party workers. 

Advocate Sidhharth Luthra appearing on behalf of the State of West Bengal said, “There is clear recording in the CCTV, First Information Report (FIR) stands registered in case of each deceased and three people have been arrested so far.” The judge granted three weeks and directed all the respondents in the matter to file their replies

So far, at least 14 people have died in the post-poll violence, according to various media outlets. On May 24, a group of citizens including former judges, retired bureaucrats and senior armed forces wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking an SIT investigation into the post-poll violence, TOI reports. On May 25, over 2,000 lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana to take cognizance of the violence in Bengal on an urgent basis. 

Narada Case: CBI Withdraws Appeal from the Supreme Court

The CBI chose to withdraw the appeal after the Justices Saran and Gavai heard the Central Bureau Investigation’s (CBI) plea into the Calcutta High Court (HC) order on  the house arrest of four Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders. The four are accused in the Narada corruption case.

Justice Gavai said, “You either withdraw it or we have to hear the other side.”

The Court said that as the SG had accepted that the issues were already being looked at by a five-judge bench of the Calcutta HC, they have sought to withdraw the plea and raise all such issues before the High Court.

The High Court had decided to put the four accused of corruption in house arrest amidst demonstrations by the TMC workers in the Court complex. CM Mamata Banerjee was also part of the demonstration. The Justices said that it is not right to imply that the influence of mobs had a bearing on the Calcutta HC’s order.

Bar and Bench reported that SG Tushar Mehta added that there was engineered violence and said, “The accused were arrested and brought to the CBI office. Information of leaders spread and huge unruly crowds gathered and gheraoed the CBI office.”

SG Tushar Mehta advocated for the case to be transferred out of West Bengal, Justice Gavai said, “We will say that we do not appreciate dharna but if the CM or the Law Minister is on the dharna, should we deny the benefit of bail to the accused?” However, they reiterated that they do not support the actions of the CM or the law minister. 

As SG Mehta claimed extraordinary circumstances and destruction of rule of law, Justice Gavai said, “A special bench is assigned to protect liberty. This is for the first time that a special bench was assigned to take away the liberty.”

The infamous Narada case refers to the sting operation conducted by the Narada News in West Bengal who had caught around 12 TMC ministers accepting bribes on-camera. The four politicians currently under house-arrest are two sitting ministers of Mamata Banerjee-led government — Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee — and TMC legislators — Madan Mitra and former MLA Sovan Chatterjee. The sting operation also included the former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari who now joined the BJP. However, he has not been arrested yet.