Sandeshkhali violence: Calcutta HC takes suo motu cognisance, allows hearing

In another order, the court also quashed the order for imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
Calcutta high court
Calcutta high court
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A single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, on Tuesday, February 13, took suo motu cognisance of the recent developments at Sandeshkhali in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district. 

Another single-judge bench of Justice Jay Sengupta quashed the order for imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The court at the same time ordered for deployment of additional armed police personnel at Sandeshkhali.

“I am shocked by the two developments at Sandeshkhali. The first is in relation to the allegations of forceful grabbing of land of the local people. And the second is in relation to the allegation of sexual harassment of local women at gunpoint. So taking a suo motu cognisance in the matter, this court allows hearing in the matter,” the single-judge bench of Justice Apurba Sinha Roy said.

Justice Sinha Roy also observed that this was the right moment for the court to step in the matter. “People go to sleep with the assurance of the existence of the court. So this is the right moment for the court to step in,” he observed. The single-judge bench also directed the state government to file a report to the court before the next date of hearing. The matter will be heard again on February 20.

The West Bengal unit of the BJP had filed a separate case at another single-judge bench of Justice Jay Sengupta seeking the permission for the party’s legislative team to visit the trouble-ridden Sandeshkhali. Giving the logic for quashing the notification for imposing Section 144, the single-judge bench said that such prohibitory orders should be issued only at places identified as troubled zones. 

Since in this case, Section 144 has been imposed in the entire area, Justice Jay Sengupta decided to quash the notification on the prohibitory orders. Tensions have prevailed in the area since February 8 following a protest organised by the women demanding the arrest of absconding Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his associates. 

Now, with the quashing of prohibitory orders, the state BJP leaders will be able to visit Sandeshkhali without any hurdles. On Monday, when the BJP team led by the Leader of the Opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, started for Sandeshkhali, they were stopped in Greater Kolkata by a huge police contingent.

While passing the order, Justice Sengupta also observed that whatever was happening at Sandeshkhali should not be taken lightly. He also observed that the police there did not start any case or investigation when the local women were feeling insecure due to the actions of Sheikh Shahjahan and his associates.

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