The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lone man beats political bullies
- Court rules against municipality, allowing a home to come up

Calcutta, Jan. 6: A Calcuttan who has no one to fight his battle but himself has emerged winner from a 20-year confrontation with organised political power.

After suffering virtual persecution by a CPM-run civic body for trying to build a home on a patch of land at Dum Dum, Samarendra Kumar Mukherjee today found justice.

Calcutta High Court ruled against the North Dum Dum municipality for obstructing him from building his home to protect the unlawful interests of a favourite who had encroached upon a portion of Mukherjee’s 1.5-cottah plot.

Justice Pranab Kumar Chatterjee’s judgment recaptured Mukherjee’s lone, uneven battle against the CPM and its offshoots, including extra-constitutional bodies like nagarik samitis — power groups of residents.

They put him through the wringer for not giving up his claim to the portion of land forcibly taken by his neighbour, Tara Charan Maity. “Unfortunately, authorities of North Dum Dum municipality all along showed a hostile attitude towards petitioner (Mukherjee) in order to protect the interests of the respondent no. 6 (Maity), ignoring the fact that he (has) encroached upon the land of the petitioner,” Justice Chatterjee said.

He also set aside the show-cause notice the municipality chairman had slapped on Mukherjee under the Bengal Municipal Act, 1932, as a prelude to the demolition of his construction and directed the civic body to pay a compensation of Rs 17,000 as cost of the case in four weeks.

Whenever Mukherjee tried to build on the basis of the sanctioned plan, he would be stopped by municipal officials, who had often been seen visiting the site accompanied by Maity, the court said. The officials stepped in on the pretext that he had deviated from the original plan.

The accusation was proven false. The judge observed that the real reason was to “create pressure” on Mukherjee so that he dropped the charge of encroachment against Maity, a favourite of the municipality.

He expressed surprise that the civic body had formally asked Mukherjee to settle the “land dispute” with Maity under the tutelage of the nagarik samiti before starting construction.

“It was done obviously for creating undue pressure upon the petitioner, ” the judge observed.

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