The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Accused back as judge

Malda, Feb. 23: Accused of molesting a civil service officer, chief judicial magistrate Dibakar Das was back in court today — and presided over a molestation case.

The case — No. 657/C2002 — had come up for hearing following a complaint filed by one Usha Rajak, accusing one Tapan Mondal of molesting her.

The presence of Das, who has been accused of sexually harassing two officers, in court evoked protests from the district bar association. “If the magistrate is allowed to sit in his chair and preside over cases, it will be of immense harm to the image of the judiciary. He should have been shifted elsewhere,” association secretary Asit Bose said.

While Das was listening to the depositions, district magistrate Ashok Bala sent a three-page confidential report to the chief secretary and the home secretary. The report questioned the role of police in the entire episode involving the chief judicial magistrate.

Yesterday, the police had told the district magistrate that the judge — who was picked up by the Englishbazar police and released after five hours of detention at the station house — had been arrested after the two officers complained. Even additional police superintendent Manoranjan Saha had said deputy police superintendent Swapan Biswas was investigating the case.

According to a senior official of the district collectorate, Bala, in his report, said he was not satisfied with the police stating today that Das had not been formally arrested. No police officer would confirm whether Das was arrested and later granted bail.

Bala’s report contained the allegations made by both women. While one of the officers said Das, under the influence of alcohol, abused her after she refused him entry into her flat at night, the other said he embraced her as soon as she opened the door. It was only after a struggle that she managed to push him out, the officer claimed.

District public prosecutor Dipak Kumar said the police were trying not to ruffle the feathers of either the judiciary or the executive. “The police are treading carefully and they are waiting for a decision by the high court,” Kumar said.

State civil service association general secretary P.K. Jana said he had apprised chief secretary Ashok Gupta and home secretary Amit Kiran Deb of the incident.

“We told them in detail about the incident and are waiting for a response,” Jana said.

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