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Supreme Court refuses to consider plea for High Court-monitored CBI probe into Sandeshkhali sexual assault case

Petitioner advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava submitted the High Court may not be able to constitute a team of officers outside the state. He also pressed for order to form a committee of former judges as was done in the case of Manipur violence.
Last Updated 19 February 2024, 12:37 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a plea for direction for a court-monitored probe by the CBI or a special investigation team and transfer of the matter related to alleged sexual assault of women in Sandeshkhali, Basirhat, outside the state of West Bengal to Delhi.

"The High Court is already seized of it. Let there not be a dual forum hearing," a bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih said.

Petitioner advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava submitted the High Court may not be able to constitute a team of officers outside the state. He also pressed for order to form a committee of former judges as was done in the case of Manipur violence.

The bench, however, said the instant matter can't be compared with that Manipur incident. The court also said the High Court can form the SIT with officers from outside the state.

In his plea, the petitioner contended "deeply disturbing allegations" of sexual assault of the women of Sandeshkhali by the leaders of the ruling party of the state of West Bengal, are evident from a perusal of the relevant portions of the order passed by the Calcutta High Court on February 13, 2024 in its suo motu matter.

"For quite some time now, three notorious criminals of the locality namely, Shajahan, Shiba Prasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, all belonging to the ruling political dispensation, had been torturing the inhabitants of the area in various ways," the HC had said.

"The miscreants would take away women from the locality in the midst of night to their offices and sexually exploit them. No complaint was taken by the local police authorities. In fact, often the police would refer the complainant to the said Shiba," the HC had added.

The petitioner submitted even a team of Enforcement Directorate officers which went to raid Sheikh’s house in Sandeshkhali in connection with alleged irregularities in the PDS scheme were recently attacked, leaving three of them badly injured. "Very strangely, FIR was filed against the ED officials themselves by the state police," the plea said.

As per news report, at least five victims have claimed that they had faced the incidents of molestation by the accused persons but they kept silent out of fear, the plea added.

"The National Commission of Women has shockingly found in its enquiry that the police has filed complaints against the relatives of women victims instead of filing their complaints and that the said victims are being threatened by local police," it alleged.

There is more than a reasonable apprehension that the helpless victims will not get justice if the investigation is left to be conducted by the West Bengal Police due to the involvement of their own police officials and due to their utterly biased approach, the plea contended.

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(Published 19 February 2024, 12:37 IST)

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