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Stricter norms expected from top court

Incidents of alleged gang-rape of helpless women during the violence that erupted after the assembly elections in West Bengal spontaneously brought back the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002, reminiscent of the Best Bakery scandal and the Bilkis Bano incident. It remains to be seen whether these victims will get justice soon or whether they will also have to face legal tricks.

The victims of West Bengal want the Supreme Court to hand them over to the Special Investigation Team after taking cognizance of them and get the cases heard in a court outside the state. Now the question is whether NGOs will come forward to provide justice to the victims and will the National Human Rights Commission and the judiciary take a similar stand? The question arises from the attitude of the state government that if the protector comes in the role of the eater then what will happen to the people? What is the reason that the police remain silent during the violence in the state. People migrate in large numbers and the governor has to go to another state to meet these migrants.

The matter was pending in the Calcutta High Court to investigate the incidents of violence and during this time the state government had been denying any such incident. But a five-judge bench of the High Court was not satisfied. The bench eventually assigned the task of investigation to the National Human Rights Commission. The High Court directed the state government to extend all cooperation to the investigation team of the Human Rights Commission. It is expected that the state government will cooperate fully with the National Human Rights Commission.

It is alleged that the alleged supporters of Trinamool Congress, which came to power again after the election results in West Bengal, targeted the homes and their families of people who supported the BJP in many areas of the state. Robbed their homes and gang-raped women. A 64-year-old woman from East Midnapore has alleged that on the night of May 4, TMC workers ransacked her house and then gang-raped her. Medical examination also confirmed the gang rape but no action was taken against the accused named in this case.
Similarly, it is also alleged that a 17-year-old Scheduled Caste girl was gang-raped by TMC workers on May 9. These women, who were allegedly gang-raped, have requested the Supreme Court to get a Special Investigation Team or Central Bureau of Investigation probed into the post-poll violence in West Bengal and refer the cases related to these cases to a court outside the state. Go so that justice can be done to them. Similar incidents happened during the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat in 2002. The Supreme Court had constituted a special investigation team to investigate about a dozen cases of communal riots in Gujarat. The apex court was continuously monitoring the progress of investigation into the incidents of these riots.

It was as a result of the strict attitude of the top court that in the first round in the Best Bakery case, the trial court had to re-investigate the charges against the accused who were acquitted in June 2003. The court heard this case outside Gujarat in Maharashtra, in which the culprits could be punished. More or less, the same was the case with the Bilkis Bano incident as well. In this case also, the Supreme Court handed over the trial of the case to the special court of Mumbai after the court of Gujarat did not get justice. This special court had sentenced 12 of the 20 accused guilty of rape, murder and destruction of evidence. The country’s top court, in its order in September 2019, had also directed the Gujarat government to pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to Bilkis Bano, a victim of gang rape, and to provide her government jobs and accommodation as per rules.

In view of the sensitivity and activism of the Supreme Court in the matter of protecting human rights, these victim women of West Bengal are now eyeing the Supreme Court for setting up a special investigation team for a fair investigation of these incidents and for fair compensation for the victims. . It is to be expected that the judiciary will follow strict norms to ensure a fair investigation into the barbaric incidents of communal violence and gang rape in West Bengal like in Gujarat.

Anoop Bhatnagar