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Fair fire, from three sides
- Army faces legal battle over lifting Maidan bar

Calcutta, Jan. 17: A three-pronged legal attack will be mounted against the army’s decision to allow the Book Fair on the Maidan.

Petitions will be filed in the high court arguing that the decision announced yesterday violates an existing court order, is discriminatory since only the Book Fair is being allowed, and will damage the environment.

After a series of meetings, advocates Arunava Ghosh, Kalyan Banerjee and Sabyasachi Roy Chowdhury said they would move court charging the army with not taking cognisance of an existing high court order which had allowed the Book Fair to be held on the Maidan for the last time in 2006.

“We are going to challenge the action of the army. The draft of the affidavit will be finalised by Thursday. We will move court on Friday,” Ghosh said this evening.

“In January last year, a division bench of the court had allowed the army to permit the Book Fair to be held on the Maidan after recording an assurance that this was the last time the fair would be held there,” advocate Kalyan Banerjee said. “A recorded assurance of the court is considered an undertaking. How can the army give permission to hold the fair again without recalling the order'”

G.S. Marketing, which had been denied permission by the army to hold its International Mega Trade Fair last year, will move court on the grounds of discrimination. “If the Book Fair is allowed permission, there is no reason why we should not be granted permission either,” said advocate Ashok Banerjee, on behalf of the company. “The two fairs are no different.”

Banerjee recalled that the company had gone to the high court last year and said it was being discriminated against because the Book Fair had been given permission. The court had then ruled that this was unfair and directed the army “not to repeat the same mistake”.

“This is reason enough for us to move court to get justice,” Banerjee said. “However, we shall not reveal our strategy on whether it will be a contempt petition or a fresh writ petition on the grounds of discrimination.”

Environment activist Subhas Dutta will move the third petition, underlining the damage that could result from holding the fair on the Maidan. “I will keep a close watch and gather evidence about the harm to the Maidan that may be caused by the fair and then move the court,” he said.

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