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Cop versus counsel in court
- Policeman in uniform slapped for occupying advocate’s chair

A kissa kursi ka with a curious twist in the tale unfolded at Sealdah court on Monday, with a lawyer taking a lawman to task for sitting on his chair. Subrata Basak, second officer of Entally police station, was slapped by advocate Tapan Das for sitting on a chair meant for men in black robes, not white uniforms. The humiliated police officer complained to his superiors, and a case was then filed before the sub-divisional judicial magistrate.

This cop vs counsel showdown comes hardly two months after a lawyer was detained for violating traffic rules at BBD Bag. The advocate was caught during a drive against jaywalkers. As news spread, the lawyers took to the streets, blocking traffic movement, roughing up a few policemen and misbehaving with a minister.

Monday's incident took place at Sealdah court shortly after noon. Basak had gone to the court to meet the public prosecutor to discuss some pending cases. As the prosecutor was handling other cases, he asked Basak to wait a while.

The officer in uniform sat down on a chair in the same room. Trouble broke out after Basak’s feet touched advocate Das, who was approaching the chair. The cop apologised, but the advocate was not to be pacified. “Das initially accused Basak of callousness. When Basak tried to explain that it was just an accident, an altercation broke out,” said a police officer. The advocate then changed his “line of attack” and demanded why Basak was sitting on the chair. “Don't you know that only an advocate can sit in this chair' How dare you sit here'" demanded Das.

When Basak stood up to protest this, Das slapped him. The others in the room intervened and escorted Das out. “Basak came straight to the police station, where he described the incident in detail to his superiors,” said an officer.

A police team then went to Sealdah court and spoke to the chief public prosecutor. They filed a case (no. 3395/2003) in the chief judicial magistrate's court against advocate Das. The magistrate referred it to the fifth judicial magistrate's court, where the case will be heard on July 24. “We have accused the advocate of obstructing a government servant from discharging his duty,” said a senior Lalbazar official. Uttam Majumder, executive chairman of the West Bengal Bar Council, however, said: “We will initiate a move only after knowing what exactly happened.”

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