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Court poser for Speaker

Calcutta, Dec. 3: The high court today directed Speaker Biman Banerjee to file an affidavit specifying the law under which he had ordered the detention of Congress leader Arunava Ghosh in the Assembly for allegedly making disparaging remarks against him.

“The Speaker will have to file the affidavit within three weeks. The case will come up for hearing in February,” Justice Sanjib Banerjee said.

The order followed a petition by Ghosh.

Ghosh’s lawyers told the court that the Constitution did not give an Assembly Speaker the power to punish a person on the basis of a privilege committee report.

“Moreover, my client was not given the opportunity to defend himself. How could the Speaker take penal measures without filing a chargesheet?” barrister Samaraditya Pal told the court.

Asked if a Speaker’s order in the Assembly could be challenged in court, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: “It is a matter of argument whether the Speaker can take away the liberty of an ordinary citizen without due process of law.”

Chatterjee added that he did not want to make any comment on this particular case.

Speaker Banerjee said: “I will not comment as I have not gone through the court order.”