Double whammy for Mamata government in court (Roundup)

Kolkata, May 13 (IANS) Delivering a double blow to West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government, the Calcutta High Court Monday ordered CBI probe into a Trinamool Congress worker’s death allegedly in police custody and refused to suspend its earlier verdict upholding the primacy of the State Election Commission.

A division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice J.M. Bagchi took the twin decisions hearing separate cases within a gap of hours in the morning session, in fresh instances of the Trinamool regime’s troubled journey in the legal corridor since its assumption of power about two years back.

The first jolt game within half an hour of the court convening for the day.

Hearing a public interest litigation, the judges directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the state police to hand over the case files related to the death of Kazi Nasiruddin to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) within seven days.

Naseeruddin died allegedly in the custody of Dhaniakhali police station in Hooghly district Jan 19, after he was arrested the previous night.

The PIL filed by Pritam Singha Roy had alleged that Naseeruddin’s death was a “pre-planned” political murder. It expressed lack of confidence in the CID, and sought a CBI probe.

Naseeruddin was found lying dead outside the police station, which led to his supporters attacking the police station.

Following a complaint by Naseeruddin’s wife Manoja Bibi, the CID which was investigating the case arrested three policemen.

Immediately after the incident, Trinamool legislator from the area, Ashima Patra had given a clean chit to police saying the “death was due to natural causes”.

The second shocker for the Banerjee government came after the bench took up its appeal against an order of Justice B. Sommader who had Friday directed the State Election Commisison to conduct the rural body polls in three stages, deploying central security forces

The government had earlier issued notification for a two-phase poll, under the supervision of the state police personnel.

In the appeal, the government also sought an injunction on the verdict, citing it was “impractical to implement”.

Hearing the appeal, the bench refused to grant the state government’s plea to suspend Justice Sommader’s verdict. The two judges observed that “conducting panchayat polls is a constitutional obligation which cannot be postponed”.

The court said it will hear the appeal on a day-to-day basis and dispose off the matter swiftly.

Welcoming the verdict ordering a CBI probe into the death of Naseeruddin, the Congress hoped for punishment of the guilty policemen.

“We hope that the names of those who are involved will come out and the guilty will be punished so that it is not repeated in future,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya told mediapersons here.

Meanwhile, Naseeruddin’s wife Manoja Bibi who had filed complaint against the police accusing them of murdering her husband, said her family was being threatened by Trinamool workers led by Patra.

“Patra and her party workers have not only been threatening my family, but have attacked people of the village who tried to support me in my fight. Even my children are not being allowed to go to school,” said Manoja.

The Trinamool government has been suffering a series of setbacks in court battles, the most notable of which is the Singur case, where the Calcutta High Court scrapped itsland act seeking to return 400 acres to peasants in the rural belt from whom land for the Tata Motors’ small car Nano project had been taken by the erstwhile Left Front government in 2006 allegedly against their will.

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