NANDIGRAM: Kolkata High Court Upholds Human Justice

NANDIGRAM: Kolkata High Court Upholds Human Justice

CBI Investigations Must Cover October-November Events Too

United Peoples Movement to Ensure Criminal Punitive Action Against the Culprits

The judgment on Nandigram that was finally delivered by the High Court of Kolkata on November 15th is no doubt a victory of the struggle by the people on the ground as well as the intellectuals including the advocates united on the issue.

The petitions filed included PILs based on letter written to the Chief Justice on March 15 by Sumit Chakravarty, Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar and those by APDR (Association for the Protection of the Democratic Rights), Paschim Bengal Khet Majdoor Samiti and Bar Association along with others.

That there had to be a boycott of the HC proceedings to get the pending judgment delivered after months, shows the need for judicial review and reform, to ensure timely justice for the common people, the victims of the development paradigm and State violence.

The judgment, however, hails our position that the firing on March 14th resulting in killing many a peaceful agitators was unconstitutional.

This was minimum acknowledgment necessary to do justice to the martyrs while the next logical and legal step of booking the culprits based on the complaints filed by the victims and the CBI investigation report is to be ensured at the earliest.

The court's directive in this regard is not likely to be so easily followed by the state government which is expressively callous and critical of the judgment. It will have to be the responsibility of the concerned and conscientious organizations and parties to see that the directive is pursued and the guilty is punished.

The reaction of Biman Bose, CPI (M) is not surprising but startling. Even when the judgment is fully within the legal and judicial framework, he has questioned it as intrusion in to the domain of Executive and Legislative. This needs to be condemned.

The most important of all is furthering CBI investigations to cover October-November events also. The judgment, one hopes, is interpreted to allow this, since the people of Nandigram are facing the same wrath and crime in relation to the political conflict they raised against the State, forcing many more killings this time than in March 2007.

The compensation directed to be paid to the victims is 5 lakhs instead of 2 lakhs announced by the WB govt to the families of the dead, and 2 lakhs to the raped and molested women. This is more than justifiable and yet somewhat inadequate. Knowing that the wounded and molested are till date unable to even pay for the treatment due to loss of livelihood, this is to be a great relief
for them, no doubt.

The declaration of Regulation of Police, West Bengal Act of 1943 is declared as ultra vires under article 14, 19, 21 of the Constitution, is also a major indication of the fact that the judiciary in WB has arisen above narrow legal framework towards Constitutional rights and human justice. This should initiate and lead to review of many an enactment in the country which continue with a
British legacy.

Last but not the least, the judgment on March incidents has to be taken as indicative of the CPM's unjust and inhuman politics of terror and violence. It can however uphold and support Nandigram struggle only if suo motto cognizance is also taken of the continued massacre and political vendetta against the once peaceful and rightful communities in Nandigram. Will that happen ?

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Pranab Bannerji

National Alliance of People's Movements