The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a PIL seeking transfer of investigation into the alleged large-scale violence against women in Sandeshkhali in West Bengal to the CBI or a SIT saying that the incident should not be compared to Manipur violence.

The Petitioner tried to draw parallels between how the the Supreme Court intervened when apprised about violence against women during the Manipur riots and the situation in Sandeshkhali where, according to the Petitioner large-scale sexual violence has been perpetrated against women and the police has not supported the victims.

The Petitioner withdrew the petition after the Court said that it was not inclined to entertain the same.

Pertinently, when the plea was mentioned on February 16, 2024 before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud responding to the mentioning of the case for urgent listing, had said that the Court shouldn't be "pressurized".

A bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih thus observed, "...the petitioner who has appeared in person after arguing the matter for sometime, sought permission to withdraw this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India with the liberty to seek relief before the Calcutta High Court. His submission is placed on record. Consequently, this writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn reserving liberty to the petitioner to seek appropriate reliefs before the Calcutta High Court".

During the arguments, Petitioner in Person, AOR Alakh Alok Srivastava submitted, "...A number of women have stated in media that they were picked from their house at night and they were raped by the local political leaders of the ruling party. Police refused to address the grievances".

He further submitted that the majority of the women belonged to the SC/ST community.

However, Justice Nagarathna asked, "Why have you filed an Article 32 petition here?".

When the Advocate sought relief in line of the Manipur Violence, Justice Nagarthna said, "You can't make such sweeping statements like that…".

The bench was further of the opinion that since the Calcutta High Court has already taken suo motu cognizance of the incident, therefore, the Supreme Court should not interfere with the matter. To which, the Advocate then said that transfer of cases to other states does not fall within the purview of the High Court.

Pursuant to which, Srivastava then referred to cases of post poll violence in the State of West Bengal to substantiate that the conditions in the State are deplorable, such that even the CBI has approached the Supreme Court to transfer those cases outside the State.

"We understand your eagerness and sympathies for the victim etc but monitoring of investigation by this Court is something totally different", said Justice Nagarathna.

Then Srivastava further submitted that the Chief Minster in the Assembly and the Police have categorically denied of any rape incident, "I am relying upon Manipur case in identical situation where this Hon’ble court…”, he said.

To which then Justice Nagarathna exclaimed, “Don’t compare this with Manipur…Manipur is still an ongoing thing”.

The bench was of the opinion that since the Calcutta High Court is seized of the matter, therefore dual forums should not be engaged with the same subject matter. The Court was also told by Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, who appeared on behalf of the State, while clarifying that he not appearing on caveat but because the case has been widely covered in the media, that the suo moto case initiated by the Calcutta High Court has been assigned by the Chief Justice of that High Court to Justice Kausik Chanda.

The plea before the Supreme Court sought an investigation into allegations of land-grabbing and systemic sexual exploitation of women in the Sandeshkhali village by local Trinamool Congress leaders. The plea also sought transfer of the probe and subsequent trial outside the state of West Bengal.

In the plea filed by Petitioner in Person, AOR Alakh Alok Srivastava, while citing particular instances of violence, termed the situation "axiomatic" as there were serious allegations against the local leaders of the ruling party of the State, sexually assaulting various helpless women of the village – Sandeshkhali. The plea also states that there are even more serious allegations against the local police of the State being complicit with the said leaders of the ruling party.

The petition was mentioned before a bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra.
The plea seeks the following directions:

- to transfer the investigation of the alleged sexual assault of women of village Sandeshkhali, Basirhat, from West Bengal Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation or to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) situated outside the state of West Bengal, preferably at Delhi, under monitoring of the Supreme Court;

-to form a Committee of three retired Judges of the High Courts, in line with the committee formed in Manipur atrocity cases (Dinganglung Gangmei Vs. Mutum Churamani Meetei & Ors, 2023 INSC 698), in order to enquire into the nature of violence against women that occurred in the village;

-to the Respondents to grant compensation to the aforesaid victims of the sexual assault of the village;

-to the State of West Bengal to initiate stringent disciplinary action as well as penal action against the erring policemen.

Earlier, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had taken cognizance of a distressing incident that reportedly occurred in Sandeshkhali, involving violence against a child. The NCPCR had written a letter to the District Magistrate of North 24-Parganas seeking an Action Taken Report about the incident within 48 hours.

The National Commission Women had issued a statement saying that testimonies of victims indicate widespread fear and systematic abuse (physical and sexual violence) by police officers and members of the Trinamool Congress, at Sandeshkhali.

The Calcutta High Court had taken suo moto cognizance of reported occurrences of sexual assaults against women in Sandeshkhali, North 24 Parganas, and illicit transfer of tribal lands.

Cause Title: Alakh Alok Srivastava v. The State Of West Bengal And Ors.