Pursuing post-poll truth: On ordering probe into Bengal violence

Court order on CBI probe is a blow against violent electoral triumphalism in West Bengal

The court’s decision to get the National Human Rights Commission to form a panel, including representatives of the State Human Rights Commission and the State Legal Services Authority, to make a field assessment was contested by the State government, but the report the exercise yielded confirmed large-scale and widespread violence, much of it by ruling party supporters against their political adversaries. The main judgment by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal has explained the reasons for handing over the probe to the central agency: the lack of concrete action, the absence of first information reports, or diluted ones registered after a committee had pointed out such cases, and the tendency to downplay many cases. Further, when faced with allegations of police apathy and inaction, only an investigation by an independent agency will inspire confidence. In a separate opinion, Justice I.P. Mukerji said that there was nothing to show that the ruling party intended to promote political violence, but agreed that the CBI probe was needed to ensure a fair investigation into heinous crimes. The State government may appeal against the verdict, but the doubt cast on the ruling party’s commitment to the rule of law is genuine. An impartial investigation may not only result in credible prosecutions but also be a much-deserved blow against the culture of violence and post-election triumphalism in West Bengal.

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