The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister in bail mix-up
- Lawyer alleges foul play, court orders fresh hearing

Calcutta, Oct. 6: The high court today withdrew its order granting anticipatory bail to state minister Narayan Biswas after a procedural mistake was detected.

The division bench of Justices Aloke Kumar Basu and S.P. Mitra decided to hear the matter again tomorrow after the counsel appearing for the complainants alleged that the government misled the court and suppressed facts while obtaining the bail order in favour of Biswas.

Biswas, along with the other co-accused, moved the high court after the district judge of South Dinajpur issued an arrest warrant for alleged involvement in a case of rioting and torching 22 houses at Ratanpur village in erstwhile West Dinajpur in 1988. This is the first time a Left Front minister has moved the court seeking anticipatory bail.

Biswas has been given full charge of cottage and small-scale industries department as the cabinet minister for the department, Bansagopal Chowdhury, has resigned after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Asansol.

Two separate matters were included in the daily list of cases of the division bench today. In the first, one Riazuddin Sheikh and others prayed for anticipatory bail while in the other, a namesake of the minister and another person made the same plea.

When the first matter came up for hearing, a government panel lawyer, Minati Gomes, appeared for the petitioners and there was no one on behalf of the respondents to oppose the bail prayers. The bench granted the bail prayer of Sheikh and others as the government lawyer did not oppose the plea. Narayan Biswas, the minister's name, also featured on the list of 'others'.

The next case, in which the namesake and another person figured, was strongly opposed by advocate Arunava Ghosh who wrongly assumed that he was opposing the minister's bail plea. He told the judges that Biswas's bail plea had been rejected by a lower court and that a warrant of arrest had been issued. After hearing the argument, the division bench rejected the bail plea.

Later in the afternoon, Ghosh realised that Narayan Biswas and the one whose bail prayer he had opposed were different persons and that the namesake was accused in another incident of rioting at Murshidabad.

Ghosh then rushed to the department and found that the name of the minister had been placed on the list associated with Riazuddin Sheikh and others.

The advocate met Justice Basu in his chamber and narrated the story, alleging that the court had been misled and the state lawyer suppressed the fact that police had already framed charges against the minister. 'Neither did the state inform the court that a warrant of arrest order had already been issued against the minister,' Ghosh told the court.

Justice Basu, the senior judge of the bench, then decided not to sign the bail order and ordered a re-hearing.

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