Thursday, May 6, 2021

It is unbecoming of ECI to give clean chit to police in Cooch Behar firing incident : Sarma

Visakhapatnam: EAS Sarma, IAS, former secretary to Government of India, questioned Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner of India, for giving a clean chit to the police personnel in the incident of firing in Cooch Behar  in West Bengal on the other day. It is imperative that the government order a magisterial enquiry whenever there is any casualty in police firing and the Election Commission should have waited for the report.  Sarma, quoting a report published by The Times of India group, said it is strange that the CEC had given a clean chit, if the report published by TOI is true. He asked the CEC to give a clarification in this regards. He marked a copy of his letter (addressed to Sunil Arora) to the other two members of the Election Commission, Sushil Kumar and Rajiv Kumar.

Four persons, reportedly workers of Trinamool Congress party, were killed and scores of others, including election officials, were injured in police firing. He said the statement by Election Commission of India (ECI) exonerative the police personal is premature. He said the Criminal Procedure Core (CrPC) mandates for the government to order judicial enquiry whenever there are casualties in police firing. A constitutional body like ECI should never do such kind of imprudent thing, Sarma said in his letter. Here is the full text of Sarma’s letter:  

“Dear S/Shri Arora, Chandra and Kumar,

It is unfortunate that instances of violence have marred the otherwise orderly elections in West Bengal and the other States. It is particularly distressing that some people have lost their lives and others including those on election duty have got injured in Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

“In cases of death of any person in police firing, while there may be extenuating circumstances that result in the use of force, it is incumbent on the part of the government to order a magesterial enquiry as required under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and await the findings from such a report to determine whether the use of force was justified and whether it was kept to the minimum necessary. Pending such an enquiry, it would be imprudent for any authority, more so for a Constitutional authority like the ECI to make any statement prematurely.

“However, as evident from the following news reports, I find that the ECI has chosen to make an observation in haste, that too, to give a “clean chit” to those who opened fire in Cooch Behar the other day, that resulted in the death of four persons.

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/west-bengal/article/cooch-behar-firing-ec-gives-clean-chit-to-cisf-personnel-says-they-opened-fire-in-self-defence/743558

https://www.livemint.com/elections/assembly-elections/recourse-to-open-fire-by-cisf-was-absolutely-necessary-to-save-lives-ec-on-cooch-behar-firing/amp-11618068452579.html#aoh=16181073490249&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s

“I earnestly hope that the above news reports do not accurately represent what the ECI has actually said. 

“ECI should clarify this to dispel any such impression, if the reports are incorrect. 

“However, if the ECI has indeed given a clean chit to the police, in my view, it is imperative that the Commission sets the record straight by revoking the statement immediately and making it clear that the due process of the law should be allowed to proceed.

“I wish to reiterate in this connection the necessity of the ECI not only issuing orders but also issuing statements in a manner consistent with the public perception that the Commission is an independent authority not influenced by extraneous considerations. The public repose a great deal of trust in the Commission’s impartiality in the matter of conducting elections and nothing should be done by it to erode that trust.”

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