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Center challenges maintainability of petitions in Calcutta High Court

the Calcutta High Court asked Monday for a response to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in a batch of petitions regarding the alleged shooting incident by CISF staff on April 10, 2021 at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district during the West Bengal Assembly polls which claimed the lives of four people.

The petitions alleged that the incident was the result of police shootings during an election campaign. Accordingly, an independent investigation into the matter had been requested. Hence, the investigation had been transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal.

On the previous hearing date, a Panel composed of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Judge Rajarshi Bharadwaj had taken note of the interim status report filed by the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on the ongoing investigation.

On Monday, the lead attorney Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya appearing for one of the petitioners sought permission from the Court to file a “comprehensive exception” to the status report filed by the state government. Furthermore, plead Sayen Chattopadhyay appearing for another petitioner argued in court that the status report filed by the state government does not disclose the steps that have been taken regarding the investigation into the alleged murder of the late Anand Burman who was allegedly shot by CISF staff.

On the other hand, plead Nilotpal Chattopadhyay appearing for the state government argued that CISF staff were not cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Pertinently, a preliminary objection to the maintainability of the petitions has been raised by Additional Solicitor General YJ Dastoor who argued that the petitioners reside miles away from where the alleged incident took place and therefore have no way of knowing the details of the alleged incident. He further pointed out that the applicants reside 600 km from where the alleged incident took place.

Referring to the Petitioners’ sworn affidavit, the ASG further noted, “No statement will be true to their knowledge.. you cannot assert something true to knowledge when you have no knowledge”.

Consistent with the submissions, the Court ordered the Additional Solicitor General to file an opposing affidavit raising an objection to the maintainability of the motions before the next court date.

The Court is expected to hear the case next February 28.

About the incident

As reported in the media, four villagers from Jor Patki village in Sitalkuchi were killed in the Central Forces shooting in West Bengal and one person was killed by unknown disbelievers while walking out after voting.

CISF personnel had opened fire after being attacked by a group of villagers at 126/5 at Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency where polling was underway for the fourth phase of West Bengal elections 2021 on 10 April. West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took over the case on April 16.

The Electoral Commission has already given the CISF a straight shot for opening fire in the Assembly constituency of Sitalkurchi in Cooch Behar, saying the opening of fire “became necessary to save the lives of voters” and it was made in “self defense”.

In addition, the Commission had also canceled voting at the polling station after the incident and imposed a 72-hour ban on politicians entering Cooch Behar for fear of unrest.

Case Title: Aminuddin Khan v. Indian Union and other related matters