In a 774-page petition, the state said: “Multiple cases such as deaths due to Covid-19, road traffic accidents and even cases of suicide have been outrightly treated as murder cases for the purpose of the report.”
The state argued that these discrepancies had led NHRC to cite 52 murders, whereas 29 murder cases had been lodged. It also disputed the allegations that 11 rape cases took place as a fallout of post-poll violence and said that NHRC had failed to define what should be “post-poll violence” and therefore “has wrongly included incidents which are either pre-poll or have taken place much after 02.05.2021”.
The poll results were declared on May 2 and chief minister Mamata Banerjee took oath of office on May 5.
The state said “out of the 1,979 complaints received by the committee, 864 alleged incidents do not even mention the date of occurrence”. It argued that among the 1,115 incidents which have dates, 45% took place in the three-day period between May 2-5 and nine percent after May 5.
It also said that CBI has been tasked to probe the murder and rape cases cited in the NHRC report, but eight of the 52 murder cases in the report don’t say when they took place. The NHRC report also cited 17 rape cases but didn’t say when nine of these took place. For attempted rape, sexual assault and molestation, the NHRC report cited 82 cases out of which “69 cases have no date of occurrence”, the state said.
Borrowing the SC’s “caged parrot” phrase for CBI, the state argued, “Past experience in the state has shown that CBI cannot function independently and is often invoked as a tool to persecute officials of the state government, public servants and representatives of the people in the state. An honest and impartial investigation cannot be expected from the CBI especially in the context of the state of West Bengal.”
In its petition, the state added that there was “a strong likelihood that the CBI will take immediate steps to persecute public officials in the state for political gains under the guise of purported investigations and under the cover of the impugned order”.