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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Post-poll violence investigation: Former Calcutta HC Chief Justice Manjula Chellur to oversee SIT probe

A five-judge Bench of the court, headed by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, had set up the SIT in its order on August 19, directing it to investigate criminal cases other than those of heinous nature such as rape and murder.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: September 4, 2021 5:00:42 am
Former Cal HC Chief Justice Manjula Chellur to oversee SIT probe on post-poll violence in BengalThe West Bengal government has appointed ten IPS officers to assist the SIT. (File Photo)

The Calcutta High Court on Friday said its former Chief Justice Manjula Chellur would oversee the functioning of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe cases of alleged post-poll violence.

A five-judge Bench of the court, headed by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, had set up the SIT in its order on August 19, directing it to investigate criminal cases other than those of heinous nature such as rape and murder. The cases of rape and murder reported during the alleged post-poll violence are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The court order was based on a report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a bunch of PILs seeking an independent investigation into allegations of widespread violence since state election results were announced on May 2.

The SIT comprises IPS officers Soumen Mitra, Suman Bala Sahoo, and Ranbir Kumar. On Thursday, the state government formed a team of ten IPS officers to assist the SIT. The officers have been deployed for the north, west and south zones of the state, and the Kolkata Police area.

In its order last month, the court had said a retired Supreme Court judge would oversee the SIT probe. But, on Friday, the five-judge Bench said, “We had directed to constitute a Special Investigation Team to monitor the investigation of specific categories of cases. The working of the team was directed to be monitored by a retired Hon’ble Supreme Court judge. On account of immediate non-availability of a retired Hon’ble Supreme Court judge to take up the assignment, we deem it appropriate to modify the aforesaid part of the order. While adding that the working of the SIT is to be monitored by a retired Chief Justice of a High Court. Further, we had requested Hon’ble Justice Manjula Chellur, retired Chief Justice of this court, to take up the assignment. She has very graciously accepted our request. We accordingly appoint her to overview the working of the SIT.”

The court also added in the order, “As an interim measure, the state government shall pay a sum of Rs 10 lakh to her [Justice Chellur] for the assignment. In addition to that, she will be entitled to travel from her place of stay to any place in connection to the work assigned and stay, which is befitting of a chief justice. It shall be the duty of the chief secretary of the state of West Bengal to ensure that all arrangements for her travel and stay are made and protocol facilities are extended to her.”

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