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CPM split on court fee Ordinance

Calcutta, Dec. 3: The CPM seems divided on the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s decision to increase court fees through an Ordinance, bypassing the Assembly that goes into session on December 9.

Going by the signs emanating from the Alimuddin Street party headquarters, law minister Nisith Adhikary, who played a major role in structuring the Ordinance central to the 20-day lawyer’s strike, stands somewhat isolated in the party as the strike is being perceived as a blow to the government’s image.

Although a member of the party’s vaunted Burdwan lobby, Adhikary is apparently finding it difficult to convince the group of the need to effect the hike by the Ordinance without going to the Assembly.

“There is no denying the fact that the hike in court fees is justified. But it will also have to be admitted that there was no hurry to bring about the Ordinance,” said CPM officials privy to the inner-party tussle triggered by one of the longest lawyer’s strikes that has paralysed over 500 courts, including Calcutta High Court.

Apparently, the government’s decision to issue the Ordinance has irked several influential CPM leaders, many of whom are believed to have taken up the matter with former chief minister Jyoti Basu.

On Monday, Basu sharply criticised the CPM leadership and the government for the current penchant for ruling through Ordinances and asked them not to take any measure that might be interpreted as a dilution of the Front or the core committee of the Cabinet.

“It amounts to talking with a forked tongue. On one hand, we criticise the Centre for bypassing Parliament and increasing prices of petrol, diesel and LPG cylinders by Ordinances; on the other hand, we ourselves are practising the same thing in our state,” a senior party leader said.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas, however, said there was nothing wrong in framing Ordinances because it is one of the constitutional rights of an elected government. “It is a fact that the court fees have been increased through an Ordinance. But the government will soon introduce a Bill in the Assembly,” he said, justifying the government’s step.

Leaders against the Ordinance are also miffed that the issue (hike of court fee) was neither tabled in the Cabinet core committee, nor was it discussed in the Left Front meeting. “The core committee was formed to avoid any confusion among the Left Front ministers and one of its main aim was to make government functioning more democratic. We feel that the purpose of setting up the core committee has failed as the government is bringing Ordinances by avoiding it,” the leaders said.

Interestingly, the Ordinance was introduced on October 28 when the government knew that Assembly would go into session on December 9. The winter session will be short, and the government is planning to introduce Ordinances after it is over to increase motor vehicles tax and trade licence fees, party sources hinted.

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