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In football season, a boot fuss

Three pairs of police boots were placed in front of a high court judge on Thursday to determine if one was different from the other.

He couldn’t. Now Calcutta police need to explain why they rejected 1,350 pairs of ammunition boots provided by a private supplier for the use of personnel ranging from constables to sub-inspectors.

The police had alleged that the boots were substandard, to which the supplier responded by saying those were of the same quality as the samples approved by them before.

The judge couldn’t tell if the samples and the supplied boots were any different, and the police lawyer failed to explain the reason for the entire order being rejected. Justice Dipankar Datta then asked the police to file an affidavit and fixed the matter for hearing on July 3.

The case is based on a petition by manufacturer and supplier Azizul Hassan Siddiqui, challenging Lalbazar’s decision to reject 1,350 pairs of boots worth Rs 8,08,500. The police had given him the contract through Manjusha, run by the West Bengal Handicrafts Development Corporation.

“Manjusha collected sample boots from some of the boot makers and sent them to the police for approval. The police selected some of the sample boots and then Manjusha distributed the orders among different boot-manufacturing companies. On April 4, Siddiqui’s company received an order from Manjusha to supply 1,350 pairs to the inspectorate of the clothing department of Calcutta police,” his lawyer Suman Ghosh said.

Ghosh said that the boots were tested and quality-certified by the National Test House and samples were again sent to the police before delivery.

Joint commissioner (administration) Mehboob Rahman, who supervises procurements, could not be contacted despite several attempts to reach him over phone.

Justice Datta had volunteered to examine the shoes himself when trader Siddiqui moved court earlier this month. Three pairs — the first submitted by the police, the second by Manjusha and the third by Siddiqui — were displayed.

Not only the judge , even the police’s counsel couldn’t tell one pair of boots from the other. “I am not the best person for the job,” lawyer Saikat Chatterjee said.

Senior lawyers could not recall another instance of shoes being lined up before a judge in a courtroom to determine their quality, though this isn’t the first instance of a shoemaker arguing his case in court.

According to high court records, Rabindranath Tagore had once moved court against a trader after he failed to supply the shoes of his choice.