It takes a judge to book a judge. Calcutta High Court on Tuesday rapped a sessions judge of Alipore court for issuing a “no-arrest” order on a person who had allegedly not paid sales-tax dues amounting to Rs 33 lakh. The judge was also accused of “deliberately” adjourning the hearing of the case for over four months.
Describing the order of K.D. Mukherjee as “illegal” and “unjust”, Justice D.P. Sengupta of the high court said the sessions judge concerned should not repeat the mistake.
Appearing on behalf of the sales-tax department, public prosecutor Kazi Safiullah alleged that the accused, running a business on Debendra Dey Road, in Tangra, had allegedly defaulted on sales tax of Rs 33 lakh. An FIR had been lodged against the offender in this regard.
“After the complaint was lodged, the accused filed an anticipatory bail prayer in Alipore court and sessions judge Mukherjee heard the petition on April 7. The next day, the judge passed a no-arrest order and adjourned the case till May 8, 2003,” said Safiullah. The case diary, he continued, was brought to court on May 8, but the sessions judge refused to hear the matter, extended his earlier order for not arresting the accused and adjourned the case till May 22. When the matter came up for hearing again, the judge repeated the same order and adjourned the case till August 7.
“This is a clear violation, as the government has amended a rule of the CrPC and fixed 30 days as the limit for hearing anticipatory bail matters,” Safiullah alleged. “This attitude of the judges should not be tolerated,” stated the public prosecutor.
Safiullah also referred to a case in March 2000 when a division bench of Calcutta High Court had warned judges not to adjourn anticipatory bail matters for more than 30 days. The court order was circulated among the judges and sessions judges across the state.
“The sessions judge, in this case, has deliberately violated the orders of the higher court,” contended Safiullah. After hearing out the public prosecutor, Justice D.P. Sengupta set aside the order of the sessions judge asking the police not to arrest the accused. Justice Sengupta described the earlier order as “illegal” and “beyond the jurisdiction of the sessions judge”.