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State counsel, judge spar on CPM label

Calcutta, Nov. 10: In an unprecedented outburst, a senior Calcutta High Court judge today dubbed the state's standing counsel as 'a man of the CPM party', evoking sharp reactions from him and another government lawyer.

The comment came from Justice Pratap Kumar Roy after standing counsel Subrata Mukhopadhyay opposed his order to the chief secretary to declare bandhs 'illegal and unconstitutional' and challenged a directive to deduct the salary of employees absent on days of hartal.

An angry Mukhopadhyay shouted: 'You have no authority to personify me and insult me by naming a political party. I may now have the right to say your order is a motivated one.'

The counsel added: 'It is unfortunate that you have also said during the hearing that Left parties had introduced the system of bandh in politics in 1967-68. As a judge, you have no right to say so.'

Justice Roy and Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya were hearing a petition filed against the bandh called by the SUCI on November 17 to protest the fuel price hike.

Debabrata Roy, another government lawyer, lent his voice to Mukhopadhyay's protest. 'It is unfortunate that a high court judge is intervening in administrative decisions and asking the chief secretary to deduct the salary of employees absent on bandh days.'

Mukhopadhyay also shouted that the court had no right to pass an order until the maintainability of the case was decided.

The judges seemed taken aback and Justice Roy was heard saying repeatedly: 'You can go to higher court over the issue. Why are you shouting here'

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused to comment on the order without taking a look at it. Chief secretary Asok Gupta said he was yet to receive a copy of the order.

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