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Judge for Tapas case

Calcutta, Aug. 29: Chief Justice Manjula Chellur of Calcutta High Court today assigned Justice Nishita Mhatre to dispose of the state government’s appeal against Justice Dipankar Dutta’s order of a CID probe into the Tapas Paul “rape-and-shoot” case.

Justice Mhatre’s view will determine the outcome of the case as the two judges of a division bench had last month differed on their decisions on the government’s appeal.

On July 28, Justice Dutta had asked Bengal police to register within 72 hours an FIR on the inflammatory speech by Trinamul Congress MP Paul and hand over the case to the CID.

Justice Dutta had also proposed to monitor the probe and keep the case pending. “I am sceptical about effective progress of the investigation should the writ petition be disposed of,” Justice Dutta had said in his order.

The writ petition alleging police inaction had been filed in Justice Dutta’s court by Nadia-based social activist Biplab Roy Chowdhury. Roy Chowdhury had alleged that although he had lodged a complaint seeking suo motu action against Paul, Nakashipara police in Nadia did not take any step. “I am happy,” the social activist said today.

On August 1, both the state government and Paul had moved appeals before the division bench of Justices Girish Gupta and Tapobrata Chakrabarti, challenging the validity of Justice Dutta’s order.

The division bench had passed an interim stay on Justice Dutta’s order till the disposal of the appeal.

Senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee, also a Trinamul MP, is representing the government in the case.

Banerjee, during the course of the hearing, had said he had condemned Paul’s speech on moral grounds but was contesting Justice Dutta’s order of a CID probe to perform his legal duty.

The two judges of the division bench had on August 13 given two different verdicts on the government’s appeal. While Justice Gupta, the senior judge on the division bench, had stayed Justice Dutta’s order, Justice Chakrabarti had dismissed the appeal and upheld Justice Dutta’s order.

The division bench had then decided to send the appeal to Chief Justice Chellur for assignment to a third judge and stayed the operation of Justice Dutta’s order till September 2.

“Justice Nishita Mhatre will have to start hearing the appeals by September 2,” said advocate Rabishankar Chatterjee, who is not involved in the case. “If Justice Mhatre’s decision goes in favour of Justice Gupta’s view, his verdict will prevail. If Justice Mhatre’s verdict goes in favour of Justice Chakrabarti’s opinion, the CID will start a probe.”