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Contempt notices to CPM trio

Calcutta, Nov. 27: The high court today issued criminal contempt notices to CPM leaders Biman Bose, Benoy Konar and Shyamal Chakraborty for making comments against the judiciary and judges.

The leaders’ salvo had followed the high court’s verdict that the March 14 police firing in Nandigram was unconstitutional and unjustified.

The division bench of Chi-ef Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justi-ce P.C. Ghosh directed the leaders to say by January 8 why contempt proceedings should not be drawn against them.

State CPM secretary Bose declined comment on the notice, but Benoy Konar, a party state secretariat member, stood by what he had said. “I am yet to receive the notice. Let me see it first,” he said initially and then added: “I stand by what I said in public. I’d like going to jail for taking a principled position.”

In Tamluk, he took on the courts again this evening.

“The high court judges have suddenly woken up…. Their conscience has woken up…. We did not see their conscience waking up when our supporters were being killed,” he told a rally.

This is the fourth time since 1999 that Bose has been hauled up for “maligning the judiciary and the judges”.

In 1999, he told a rally in Siliguri that a court order could be purchased. The high court fined Bose Rs 2,000, which he deposited. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the case on technical grounds.

In 2001, he said the high court’s orders were responsible for delay in development work. The case is still pending in the high court.

In the third case, Bose criticised Justice Amitava Lala for restricting rallies in Calcutta on working days. The high court sentenced the CPM leader to three months’ imprisonment and slapped a Rs 2,000 fine. He moved the Supreme Court, where the appeal is pending.

Today’s order was passed on the basis of petitions jointly moved by members of the Bar Association, the Bar Libr-ary Club and the Incorporated Law Society — three forums of Calcutta High Court lawyers.

The petitioners contended that while addressing a public gathering at Esplanade on No-vember 17, the three slammed the judiciary for denouncing the police firing and asking the CBI to continue with its probe into the incident.

Fourteen people were kill-ed in the land war zone on Ma-rch 14.

Moving the petition, advocates Shaktinath Mukherjee and Jayanta Mitra said: “Fair criticism of any judgment is acceptable in law. But the leaders, while criticising the judgment, had attacked the judiciary and used abusive words against the judges.”

As members of the judiciary, Mukherjee and Mitra thought the leaders should be prosecuted. Producing the November 18 issue of the CPM organ, Ganashakti, in the court, the lawyers said: “Look my lord, here the headline of a news item is ‘chakranta’ (conspiracy) and the news item refers to the court.”

The next hearing will be a week after the court’s Christmas vacation.

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