The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Punish Bose, cry lawyers

Calcutta, Oct. 6: Lawyers today appealed to the chief justice of Calcutta High Court to penalise Left Front chairman Biman Bose for his open criticism of Justice Amitava Lala and his ruling restricting rallies.

After a meeting of the executive committee of the State Bar Council, its executive chairman Uttam Majumdar said: “The confidence of the common people in the judiciary will be lost if Bose is allowed to go free after criticising a senior high court judge in such a fashion.”

The committee also decided to approach Chief Justice A.K. Mathur with a request to ensure “expanded” hearing of the case.

It asked the CPM and the other constituents of the Left Front to persuade Bose to withdraw his comments after “offering unconditional apologies”.

A few hours later, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas put his signature on the raging controversy by reaffirming the demand that his party and other political parties and organisations be allowed to take out rallies as and when they like.

“Holding rallies or processions is our basic right, it cannot be curbed or restricted,” said Biswas, another politburo member, imparting a boost to his party mate Bose.

“Please make no mistake, we respect the court and are not in favour of going into a confrontation with the judiciary. But the law cannot be considered more important than politics, though the former is one of the major pillars of the Constitution,” Biswas said.

“But as far as the rally case is concerned, we are being forced to go into a confrontation to uphold the democratic tradition. One must realise that the laws of the land are a result of sustained struggle through demonstrations, movements and rallies.”

Surprisingly, neither Bose nor Biswas has felt it necessary to even concede the existence of the other right — that of free movement — in a clear indication that they do not think it important, though many others do.

So far, there is nothing to suggest that Bose’s announcement on Saturday of Wednesday’s convention to defy Justice Lala’s ruling is even being given a second thought. The police continue to take shelter behind the technicality that they have not received a copy of the ruling, though Justice Lala pronounced his directives in the presence of the deputy commissioner, traffic.

They are unlikely to receive one, too, before October 8 when the vacation bench sits again and by the time they do, the convention could be over. First violators of the ruling could, therefore, walk free.

In a memorandum to the chief justice, the council, representing nearly 26,000 lawyers, suggested the setting up of a special bench of three judges to hear the government’s appeal against Justice Lala’s verdict.

The special bench will give political parties, various organisations and individuals, who are directly concerned, an opportunity to offer their views in a “civil manner”.

Only a broad hearing of the case can help lower the temperature, the council believes.

“The relationship between the two (administration and the judiciary) must be brought back on the rails. We have no doubt that the chief justice is the best person to take the peace initiative,” said Majumdar.

On Sunday, council chairman Amiya Chatterjee had alleged that by criticising the judgment openly, Bose was trying to terrorise the court and obtain a favourable response to the government’s challenge to the ruling.

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