The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Privileges for ‘contemner’

The annual Jain Swetamber procession (Paresh Nath Yatra) will be held on November 8. Vehicular traffic will be restricted between 10.30 am and 4 pm from 139, Cotton Street to 29, Badridas Temple Street and along Rabindra Sarani, Beadon Street, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road and Nirode Behari Mullick Road.

Privileges come with power. Even in a court of law.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose, asked to appear in Calcutta High Court in a contempt case slapped on him for some anti-judiciary comments attributed to him, did show up on Friday morning. But unlike other less- fortunate alleged contemners who have to stand in the dock, he heard the defence his legal team had lined up from a chair positioned in front of the division bench, comprising Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice S.P. Talukdar.

Bose left after his advocate managed to wrest another privilege; he would not have to appear in court till further notice. The court asked the Front chairman to file a written affidavit explaining his position within 10 weeks and set the next date of hearing two weeks after that. Some newspapers were also made a party to the case.

Anyone looking for some action would not have come away disappointed on Friday. From a man, claiming to be an advocate, entering the court “with 200 supporters to back whatever Bose said”, to CPM-backed lawyers forming a protective ring around him (shielding him from the slogans by other lawyers incensed by his alleged anti-judiciary comments) throughout his 35-minute stay, drama ran high.

A tense Bose entered the court through its eastern gate around 10.30 am and was escorted to the lift, and then to room no. 12, by lawyers belonging to the CPM-affiliate Democratic Lawyers’ Association. Inside, the situation was made as comfortable for him as possible.

Lawyer Bikash Bhattacharjee based his argument against the contempt notice slapped on Bose on two points. One, the notice was issued on the basis of newspaper reports, whose veracity was indeterminate. Two, a contempt notice on a “dignitary”, according to a Supreme Court verdict, must be routed through the offices of the advocate-general or the solicitor-general or the attorney-general.

So, the case against Bose did not stand on technical grounds, Bhattacharjee argued, seeking its dismissal by the division bench. The court, however, ruled that the case would be heard, but 12 weeks later.

Bhattacharjee then asked for the second privilege — that the mandatory personal attendance for Bose be waived. This was granted. But the third privilege was refused. Bose wanted to leave while the bench was dictating its decision. The judges told him to stay put till the matter was over.

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