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HC seeks Ambikesh papers from panel, govt

The high court on Thursday directed the state human rights commission and the state government to produce all documents related to their probe in the Ambikesh Mahapatra case by February 27.

Justice Dipankar Dutta, who issued the order to the commission and the government, scheduled the next hearing for February 27.

The state government will have to produce the papers related to the case kept at East Jadavpur police station, including the general dairy.

Mahapatra, a professor of chemistry at Jadavpur University, and his septuagenarian neighbour, Subrata Sengupta, were allegedly harassed by the police in April 2012 for circulating an Internet joke lampooning chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Mahapatra had used the email account of Sengupta, the secretary of his housing society, to circulate the joke.

Thursday’s order was on a petition filed by Mahapatra on November 7, after the government refused to implement the rights panel’s recommendation that penal measures be taken against two officers of East Jadavpur police station for the harassment and the professor and Sengupta be paid Rs 50,000 each in compensation.

In response to Mahapatra’s petition, the court had directed the state home secretary to file a report stating why the government had not implemented the recommendations.

Home secretary Basudev Banerjee, in his report, sought to reason that the rights body’s recommendations could not be implemented as the police had brought Mahapatra to the police station to rescue him from a mob.

They were arrested at the police station only after an FIR was filed against them. Banerjee added the police had released the duo on bail and asked them to return home, but they refused. The state, he submitted, found no guilt on the part of the police.

Mahapatra’s counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya contested the claim and pointed out discrepancies between the reports of the home secretary and the human rights commission.

“The rights panel’s probe revealed that Mahapatra and Sengupta had been arrested from home and there was no record at East Jadavpur police station to show that they had been released on bail,” Bhattacharyya submitted.

The lawyer’s submission prompted the judge to ask the rights panel and the government for the records of the case.