The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Judge unseats civic chief

The CPM chairman of Halisahar municipality has lost his chair and so have all his fellow council members, following a court order, for disobeying an earlier directive on restoring water supply to a house, which the municipality had snapped in the middle of a case over tax wrangles.

Civil judge Dinanath Prasad of Barrackpore court gave his verdict on Saturday against Halisahar municipality, north of the city, for failing to restore water supply to the residence of Bibhas Biswas, who had bought a house at Halisahar in 1992. Last year, the local municipality directed him to pay some outstanding taxes. Biswas, who promptly paid the taxes, was directed by the municipality a second time to pay additional taxes as arrears.

Biswas first tried to reason with municipal chairman D.D. Pal. When that failed, he had no alternative to seeking justice in court. “I have complied with all the rules and even paid taxes according to the existing municipal rates. But they insisted later that I had to pay an additional Rs 27,000 as arrears, which was totally wrong,” Biswas said.

Finally, lawyers Arup and Mitali Dasgupta, along with Shyamal Chattopadhyay, filed a title suit at Barrackpore court, challenging the municipality’s decision. “While the case was being heard, the municipality disconnected water supply to Biswas’ house,” Arup Dasgupta added. On February 19, the court directed the municipality to restore water supply within 10 days.

The municipality did not comply with the order and, instead, filed an appeal challenging the order at Barasat court requesting a stay order. Barasat court rejected the municipal stay application two months ago.

But the water supply was not restored and Biswas appealed in court again with a contempt-of-court plea against the municipality. After a brief hearing, Justice Dinanath Prasad found the municipality guilty of contempt on Saturday. The court observed that all the furniture of the municipality, including the chairs of the chairman and his council members, be attached.

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