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Plea in fake Tagore case

The anticipatory bail plea of Dipali Bhattacharya, the suspended principal of the Government College of Art & Craft, came up for hearing before the Calcutta High Court division bench of Justice Ashim Roy and Justice Joymalya Bagchi on Thursday.

The bench will hear the plea again on November 16.

Bhattacharya filed the plea after the CID on November 1 took over the investigation of the complaint that she had organised a fake Tagore exhibition at the college last year.

The former director’s lawyer, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, submitted before the bench that it was impossible for the organiser to realise that the paintings were fakes as it required an expert committee to determine that. It was an error of judgment.

Secondly, the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) stating that the paintings were fakes has been challenged in court by Anirudh Chari. Moreover, when an artist of Jogen Chowdhury’s stature bought one of the paintings, there was no question of doubting their authenticity.

Lastly, it was not Dipali Bhattacharya’s independent decision to display the pictures but that of a committee, of which artist Chowdhury was also a member.

Advocate Debasis Roy, on behalf of the CID, submitted that art scholar Shiv Kumar had warned Dipali Bhattacharya against holding the exhibition as he had pronounced the paintings fake on seeing the images.

Moreover, the paintings had been touched up by Biswanath Chanda at Bhattacharya’s instance, so she cannot plead non-involvement. Besides, the CID wants to arrest the petitioner as it fears she might escape.

Advocate Kaushik Chanda, appearing for those who had lodged an FIR in connection with the case, countered Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya’s submission, saying nobody has challenged the ASI report. Anirudh Chari has only filed an application for addition as a party in the case which has not been allowed yet.

Before the ASI submitted its report, Dipali Bhattacharya had filed an affidavit stating it was at her initiative that the paintings had been procured from Jayanta Banerjee, another accused in the case.

According to Chanda, there was no mention of any committee in the affidavit.