In an embarrassment to the West Bengal government, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the mysterious death of graphics designer Rizwanur Rehman. The court also rapped Kolkata Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee for showing prejudice against an inquiry into the incident.
Justice Soumitra Pal, in an interim order, directed the CBI to complete the investigation and submit its report to the court within two months.
The court observed that the CID inquiry being conducted into the death of Rizwan, who had married the daughter of a Hindu industrialist, was not legally valid as it had not been ordered according to law. Justice Pal observed that the CID was conducting the inquiry without registering a case.
The court, in its order, said the Kolkata Police Commissioner's comment at a press conference on September 21 displayed his prejudice against any inquiry or investigation into the matter.
Justice Pal also noted that it has been alleged that despite intimation by Rizwanur and Priyanka about their legal marriage and the threats from her family, the police did not provide them security.
The court also noted the allegation that the couple had instead been summoned to the Lalbazar police headquarters thrice and had allegedly been threatened by senior police
officers. The high court directed the state government to file an affidavit in opposition to the petitioners' plea within November 30 and asked the petitioners to file a reply to it by December 10.
Observing that Rizwanur's death was an irreparable loss, Justice Pal said that his mother and brother had the right to move the court to seek justice.
State Advocate General Balai Roy had questioned whether the petition was at all maintainable. He had said that the petitioners should have moved a magistrate's court seeking an inquiry into Rizwanur's death and only if they were not satisfied there, they could move the high court.
However, the high court said that Article 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution had been violated in this case and the petitioners had the right to move the court.
A large number of people, who were present in the court room, broke into thunderous applause after the order.
Rizwanur's body was found on the rail tracks near Dum Dum in Kolkata on September 21 following his marriage to Priyanka, daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi, on August 18. He had allegedly been threatened by Kolkata police officers, including two deputy commissioners, to part with her.
Rizwanur's mother Kishwar Jahan and elder brother Rukbanur had moved the High Court seeking a CBI inquiry into his death, claiming that they did not have faith in an inquiry conducted by any state agency. The state government had ordered a CID enquiry and also a judicial inquiry into the death of Rizwanur but resisted the demand for a CBI probe.
Rizwanur had married Priyanka Todi under the Special Marriage Act on August 18 and began living with her at his residence from August 21. It was alleged by the petitioners that Rizwanur and Priyanka were summoned to Lalbazar, Kolkata Police's headquarters, thrice.
Priyanka returned to her father's home on September 8 following a written assurance by her uncle that she could return to her in-laws after a week. But she never returned. Rizwanur failed to trace her or contact her after two days and his body was found on the railway tracks on September 21.
The petitioners alleged that Priyanka's father Ashok Todi had met Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee and sought his help in getting his daughter back. Todi was allegedly introduced to Mukherjee by Snehasis Ganguly, elder brother of star cricketer Sourav Ganguly.
It was alleged that DCP (Headquarters) Gyanwant Singh had summoned Rizwanur to Lalbazar on September 3 and had allegedly tried to persuade the girl to go back to her father. But she refused and also told Singh that her parents were causing her mental torture.
On September 8, they were allegedly summoned to Lalbazar again and the DCP (Detective Department) Ajoy Kumar shouted at Rizwan and threatened him with arrest following which he finally agreed to allow Priyanka to return to her father's residence for a week.
On September 23, the police commissioner addressed a press conference where he reportedly claimed that the police had not done anything wrong by summoning the couple. "Who else will do it, the PWD," asked Mukherjee.