The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Appeal rush in judge case

Calcutta, Nov. 20: The Supreme Court is set to witness yet another round of legal battles over the Salt Lake land allotment case. All three parties ' Justice Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee, Tarak Singh of the Trinamul Congress and the Bengal government ' have decided to file revision petitions on yesterday's order.

In a scathing judgment, the apex court had cancelled the 'improper' allotment of a plot in Salt Lake by former chief minister Jyoti Basu to Justice Banerjee in 1987. The court directed the state government to auction the house and pay the amount it fetched to the former judge, who would then have to vacate it within a week.

The order came on a petition Singh had filed complaining of malpractice in distribution of plots by the former chief minister.

Legal experts said the decision of all three parties to contest the judgment is 'rare'.

'There have been very few occasions in the history of Indian judiciary when all the parties concerned in a case have sought a revision or modification of an order by the apex court,' said Saradindu Biswas, former chairman of the West Bengal Bar Council. But the three have different reasons for moving the court.

Justice Banerjee's aides said his petition will state that he has been made 'a scapegoat'. They said he would try to establish there was no connection between him being allotted the plot and his 1987 order giving Basu the nod to allot land in Salt Lake from the chief minister's quota.

The aides said the former judge will state that he gave the go-ahead as the cabinet had already empowered Basu to allot land from his quota and the court could not interfere with this administrative decision.

Banerjee, they added, will seek to portray that the facts, especially those relating to him, had been 'misrepresented to the apex court'. 'He had even informed the President of India of his request for the Salt Lake plot much before the case started in the high court,' an aide said.

Singh will file a revision petition for the failure of the apex court to take penal measures against Basu and his cabinet colleagues 'responsible for land distribution in Salt Lake'.

Dipak Ghosh, who joined Singh as a petitioner in the case, said when the Supreme Court had asked him to shortlist some names from the 294 who had received land from the chief minister's quota, he had submitted a list of 30. It included political leaders, Basu's relatives, judges and bureaucrats.

'But the court has taken cognisance of just one name (Banerjee). What about the remaining 29 names' Singh asked. 'We would like a clear statement from the court.'

'Why is it that penal measures have not been recommended against either Basu or his two cabinet colleagues, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (then urban development minister) and Asim Dasgupta (finance minister), responsible for allotment of plots in Sector II of Salt Lake' asked Arunava Ghosh, Trinamul MLA and Singh's lawyer.

The government has objected to the apex court's reference to 'an unholy nexus between the passing of the judicial order and granting order of allotment' and said it should be omitted from the judgment.

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