Anurag Dey says legal battles are Mamata’s Achilles’ heel?
The legal woes of West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government seem to be unending. Constantly embroiled in legal battles, it has now been reprimanded by the courts, prompting the opposition to question the existence of rule of law in the state. In a blow to the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Calcutta High Court, in two different cases, ordered CID and CBI probes respectively against two its prominent leaders infamous for making hate speeches.
“The verdicts bring forth all the pervasive partycracy. Under this regime the administration and the police have become synonymous to the Trinamool. While the courts repeatedly are slamming the whimsical ways of the government, the ruling party has refused to learn from its mistakes,” state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told IANS.
Birbhum district Trinamool president Anubrata Mondal, who gained notoriety for his hate speeches, is facing a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while Lok Sabha member Tapas Paul is facing arrest and a CID probe for threatening to kill and rape rival political activists.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sought to defend both her leaders. If a mere apology was enough to condone Paul, Mondal – whose inflammatory speech is blamed for the murder of an independent panchayat member – has been receiving rave reviews by the party chief for his organisational skills.
While ordering the CBI probe into the murder of panchayat member Sagar Ghosh, a High Court bench came down hard on the Banerjee administration’s inaction in apprehending the culprits and said its confidence in state police chief G.M.P. Reddy had been “shattered”.
Cornered over the multi-million rupee Saradha scam in which several of its leaders have been arrested or grilled by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, the latest court indictment has prompted the opposition to point fingers firmly at Banerjee and her Trinamool.
Chowdhury slammed the state government over its decision to go in appeal in the Sagar Ghosh case.
“It’s a shame that the DGP has been defending Mondal who had called for bombing the police and now the government too has joined hands by appealing against the CBI probe. This proves that this government has no respect for rule of law,” added Chowdhury.
Ever since the Banerjee-led Trinamool came to power in the state in 2011, legal battles have proved to be its Achilles’ heel.
If its ambitious legislation to return land to farmers from whom it was forcibly acquired for an industrial unit in Hooghly district was declared “unconstitutional and void”, the court struck down another law that allowed levying a one percent tax on the entry of certain goods into the state.
The state government suffered a similar fate in several other legal battles including its futile attempt to prevent a CBI probe into the Saradha scam which was eventually ordered by the apex court.
“This government has repeatedly refused to learn its lessons. Having spent millions of rupees in its futile bid to thwart the CBI probe, it is yet again trying to do the same. Despite being repeatedly humiliated by the court, the government continues to brazenly flout rules and laws,” BJP state president Rahul Sinha said.
As a feisty opposition leader, Banerjee would often clamour for CBI probes against the acts of the erstwhile Left Front regime. Ironically, now her administration as well as her party are facing the agency’s heat.
Having arrested and interrogated several Trinamool leaders including former IPS officer Rajat Majumdar and MPs Suvendu Adhikari and Srinjoy Bose, the agency now has named seven police officers in its charge sheet while probing a custodial death in Hooghly district.
The Banerjee administration, especially the police, have been repeatedly coming under the fire by the Calcutta High Court. Earlier, expressing severe displeasure over the ‘incompetency’ of the police, a bench headed by Justice Nadira Patherya ordered a CID probe into the disappearance of a minor girl in Murshidabad district.
The Trinamool, however, is reluctant to admit it has been at the receiving end in court battles.
State Law Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya told IANS: “It is completely incorrect to say that the government has suffered setbacks or is losing cases in court. In Paul’s case, we had asked for a CID inquiry without court monitoring which is what the court has decreed. The court has actually expressed confidence in the government.”
“The government does not win or lose a case. The government’s only intention is to ensure the laws are interpreted properly,” added Bhattacharya who is now facing action for contempt of court for leading an agitation against CBI over its probe in the Saradha scam.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan, instrumental in filing the petition which eventually led the Supreme Court to order the CBI probe in the Saradha scam, has again moved the apex court against Bhattacharya.
“By agitating against the CBI, Bhattacharya has committed contempt of court. So we have approached the Supreme Court seeking action against her,” Mannan told IANS.