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Calcutta HC allows filing of contempt pleas against West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

By Shreya Agarwal      26 April, 2024 06:43 PM      0 Comments
Calcutta HC allows filing of contempt pleas against West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court has permitted the filing of contempt petitions against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her remarks on the High Court after it cancelled the appointments of nearly 26,000 teachers in the SSC recruitment scam matter.

Hearing mentionings in this regard, the Court granted permission to two lawyers who sought to file file petitions and further took on record the media reports submitted by  Senior Advocate and Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya on the West Bengal Chief Minister's controversial remarks.

The Court said that the papers concerning the case would be placed before the Chief Justice on the administrative side before any further action is taken.

The developments came after Bhattacharya mentioned the matter on Thursday, urging Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya to take suo-motu action.

"We do cases before the Hon'ble Court by toiling the midnight oil... Now somebody is accusing that judges of the High Court and the entire High Court have been sold!" Bhattacharya submitted.

He prayed for suo-motu cognizance stating that filing a criminal contempt petition would be redundant because as per procedure he would have to take the Advocate General’s permission for the same. With the contempt being by the Chief Minister herself, such permission “will not be granted in any amount of time”, he contended.

Therefore, he suggested, "I can file an affidavit showing that these are the statements, but kindly take cognisance of this. Otherwise, every court is laughing at us - what is going on! “High Court has been purchased" (it has been said).”

He was accompanied by other lawyers, all of whom urged the Calcutta High Court to take suo motu cognisance of remarks made by the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Mamata Banerjee allegedly said that the High Court has been "sold out”, after a division bench of the  Calcutta High Court quashed the appointments of around 26,000 teaching and non-teaching staff made in 2016 by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC).

The Court also ordered the 26,000 candidates to return the salaries they had received after being "illegally" recruited.

Earlier, one Advocate Koustav Bagchi, a former Indian National Congress spokesperson also wrote to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court requesting for suo motu cognizance of the CM’s statements.

Bagchi had highlighted that this is not the first time that CM Mamata Banerjee has indulged in such behaviour. 
He had pointed out an instance from 2012 when she addressed the West Bengal Assembly alleging that court orders were being passed in exchange for money.

"Why will judgments only be given in favour of people who offer money?", she had alleged then, challenging that she could "be arrested and put in jail for this" but had to express her "point of view".

Senior Advocate Bhattacharya also told the Court that such statements have been made persistently by her to belittle the court in the eyes of the public.

"We will keep translations of the headings.. Now (it is reported that) 'High Court has been sold out.' That is the statement of the Hon'ble Chief Minister - not on one day, but persistently after the judgment delivered by this court. Persistent attempt! Just to make the High Court ridiculed in the eyes of the common man. I will file an affidavit. There are English newspaper reports (to this effect). Kindly take cognisance," Bhattacharya urged the Court.

The Court, meanwhile, asked whether a petition could be filed on the issue, to which Bhattacharya assured that he would submit an affidavit, with the news reports.

The West Bengal government has also challenged the April 22 verdict of the Calcutta High Court before the Supreme Court, which is yet to be heard.
 



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