The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Constitutional crisis looms

Calcutta, Oct. 11: The continuing violations of Justice Amitava Lala’s order and the Bengal government’s inability to enforce it — wittingly or unwittingly — is paving the way for a constitutional breakdown in the state, legal experts said today.

Yesterday, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) and the CPI (M-L) Liberation had flouted the order banning rallies on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm. Today, it was the turn of the CPM-dominated People’s Relief Committee.

What is surprising experts is the government’s “apparent lack of determination to enforce the ban despite having received a copy of Justice Lala’s order”.

“The situation is definitely heading towards a constitutional breakdown,” senior advocate Gitanath Ganguly said. “I am definitely not asking for the implementation of Article 356 of the Constitution and imposition of President’s rule in the state.

“But I must say that by deliberately flouting Justice Lala’s order, political parties are sending out the wrong signals to everyone. The situation is snowballing into a major constitutional crisis.”

Ganguly said “there is nothing wrong if someone does not agree with Lala’s order”. “But for that, they need not violate a high court order which is clearly the case here. Let the person appeal to the division bench of the high court or later, if need be, in the Supreme Court.

“One must remember that Justice Lala is a product of the court and when he passes a judgment, he is representing the court. The violation may have a far-reaching effect.”

State bar council executive chairman Uttam Majumdar said what was “especially appalling” was the government’s “inaction” in stopping the rallies even after getting a copy of the order.

In the process, the entire judicial system was getting undermined, Majumdar said. “If such violations carry on, the judiciary would have no role to play and would simply remain an ornamental part of the Constitution of the nation. We might as well close down the courts and let anarchy prevail.”

Stressing the need for “immediate action” against the violators, Majumdar said: “I must emphasise that everyone who took part in today’s rally should be charged under all sections of the Contempt of Court Act.

“We have already addressed a letter to governor Viren Shah as he is the constitutional head of the state and asked for an appointment. We need to have a detailed discussion on the recent developments of violations of the court order.”

A former high court judge said the “entire episode is turning into a nightmare for the judiciary”. “What the politicians are doing is condemnable and all violators of the order, including the government for not enforcing it, should be punished for contempt.”

Senior advocate Supratik Roy said: “At this rate, a constitutional crisis is imminent. By deliberately inciting the general public against the court order, politicians are demoralising the judiciary, which is one of the three important pillars of democracy.

“If the court’s orders are ridiculed, there will not be any rule of law. By addressing people who violated the law, the chief minister is indirectly supporting the violators of the law.”


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