The Calcutta High Court in the suo moto matter pertaining to Sandeshkhali violence and land grabbing cases has directed the State authorities to extend the fullest cooperation as the Central Bureau of Investigation made an allegation about their non-cooperation.

The Court also sternly directed the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police and other authorities of North 24 Parganas to comply with the order directing the installation of street lights, CCTVs, Cameras, LED Lights, etc. in sensitive places, failure to which contempt will be initiated against them.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice T.S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya observed, "Directions issued by this Court on 10.04.2024 have been implemented and the matter is proceeding in the right direction. CBI has made a statement that with regard to the verification of the complaints of land grabbing, they are huge in number, over 900 complaints for which the cooperation of state authorities is required, and there is an allegation that there is non-cooperation from the State Authorities. As against the order dated 20.04.2024, the State has preferred an appeal before the Hon'ble Supreme Court...the order passed by this Court shall be scrupulously complied with and the State Authorities are directed to extend the fullest cooperation. If there is a shortage of staff, additional staff shall be deployed for that purpose and they shall work in tandem. The Court will monitor the progress and on the next hearing date a further report may be filed."

The National Human Rights Commission also filed an application for intervention in the matter, which was allowed by the Court.

Advocate Priyanka Tibrewal submitted that the female victims are being threatened that if they give statements as regards rape and sexual assault cases they will be killed, so therefore, they are hesitant to give any kind of statement to CBI.

The Court said, "...They are under constant threat of their life and limb...which prevents them from revealing the actual incidents which have occurred. The CBI may evolve a method of confidence building in cases where the complainants seek adequate protection or if they come forward to say that they are under threat, as a premier investigating agency they will have all the expertise to record the correct statements of the victims. this exercise shall be done by CBI by adopting methodology which obviously is time tested."

Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava also appeared and suggested that a lady CBI officer may be deployed for confidence-building, the same was recorded by the Court.

Recently, the State of West Bengal has filed a special leave petition against the order passed by the Calcutta High Court in the Sandeshkhali Violence cases, stating that the Public Interest Litigation Petitioners, Intervenors and other related parties are interested parties with oblique political motives and the State Police has already taken extensive steps in the matter which were ignored by the High Court. The prime accused in these cases is Sheikh Shahjahan who is in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate. The SLP is listed before the Bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta, which adjourned the matter on April 29, 2024, and directed that the pendency of the SLP shall not in any manner affect the investigation.

On April, 10, 2024, the Calcutta High Court had ordered that an impartial enquiry is required to be done by an agency which has the power to probe the criminal angle stated to be involved. Therefore, the Court opined that that it was necessary in the interest of justice and fair play, and for expeditious considerations of various complaints and allegations, an impartial enquiry was required to be conducted. The Court said that the State of West Bengal shall provide the required support to the CBI to enquire into the matter.

After the order passed by the High Court, the CBI made a dedicated email ID i.e. [email protected] for people of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district to register complaints of crimes against women and land grabbing.

The High Court had taken suo moto cognizance in response to the newspaper reports of alleged sexual assault, violence and land-grabbing cases in Sandeshkahli, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. The Court had clarified that there is no interim order of stay of the arrest of Sheikh in any case before the court and also expressed anguish and concern over the fact that in earlier cases of a similar nature, the Police Authorities took four years to file chargesheets and there was a delay in investigations/inquiries. The Court had expressed anguish and concern over the fact that in earlier cases of a similar nature, the Police Authorities took four years to file chargesheets and there was a delay in investigations/inquiries.

The Calcutta High Court had also told the Counsel of the prime accused Sheikh Shahjahan that he shall not exercise his powers as Zila Parishad Pradhan of Sandeshkhali. The Calcutta High Court had refused the urgent listing of the Bail Application of TMC Leader Shahjahan Sheikh who was arrested either in the morning or late night yesterday in the sexual assault, violence and land-grabbing cases from Sandeshkhali.

The matter is now listed on June 13, 2024.

Cause Title: The Courts On Its Own Motion v. State Of West Bengal, Priyanka Tibrewal v. State Of West Bengal and Ors. and Alakh Alok Srivastava v. State Of West Bengal And Ors.