The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rally-free Puja gift
- Court to hear govt challenge only after vacation

Calcutta, Oct. 2: Calcutta is officially rally-less, at least till October 27 when Calcutta High Court returns from its Puja vacation.

The high court’s vacation bench today rejected persistent state government demands for a stay on the ruling given by Justice Amitava Lala on Monday stopping rallies between 8 am and 8 pm on working days.

Without Justice Lala’s trial court records and a certified copy of his order, which could not be procured despite several attempts that continued till Thursday morning, the two-member bench — comprising Justice Alok Chakraborty and Justice Shubhrakamal Mukherjee — refused to consider the matter.

Allowing only the immersion processions for Durga, Lakshmi and Kali Pujas, the court told the government team that the vacation bench could be approached any time before court reopened, but only for “a specific appeal concerning a specific incident”.

What Thursday’s vacation bench order means is that Calcutta is spared political rallies — unless any group defies the order — till the regular division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A.K. Bannerjee, takes another look at Monday’s order.

Even the immersion processions allowed by the vacation bench have to take place in strict compliance with police orders.

Thursday was not a day the government’s legal team, led by advocate-general Balai Ray, would like to remember. It suffered another setback, when the vacation bench refused to uphold its contention that there was no legal basis for Justice Lala’s decision to slap a contempt notice on Calcutta police for holding him up while allowing a rally to pass on September 24 as he was going to work.

“Your case is, at best, arguable,” the judges told Ray, refusing to agree with him that the police did not obstruct Justice Lala him from administering justice. “Justice Lala was on his way to this court to administer justice,” the judges said.

The bench first met at 10.30 am but decided to have a 30-minute break so that efforts to get the trial court’s records could continue. The exercise, which began on Wednesday, yielded nothing and the court sat down to order at 11 am without the records.

“We have with us the records available with the advocate-on-record,” Ray however said, straining to explain that the matter at hand was of utmost importance to the government and, therefore, its legal representatives did not mind the absence of court records.

The bench did not comment. But, when time came for it to make its opinion known, it stuck to the normal legal position. “It will not be proper for this bench to pass any interim order without having the trial court’s records,” the judges said.

They, however, cleared the government’s immediate concern of immersion processions.


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