The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bandh bench stalks Mamata

Calcutta, Nov. 25: Calcutta High Court today set in motion the process of educating Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress about the consequences of calling a bandh.

Taking note of Trinamul's absence from court, despite summons issued in connection with the hearing of a public interest litigation opposing the 24-hour bandh called by the party on December 3, a special bench ordered despatch of fresh summons to the leadership.

'They (Trinamul) are expected to come forward and inform the court of their stand on the subject of bandh,' Justices Pratap Kumar Roy and Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya said.

The bench has been formed to deal exclusively with bandh-related cases.

The observation came while dealing with the PIL initiated by advocate Idris Ali who, in response to a question from the judges, submitted that he had arranged to have the summons served on all respondents, including Mamata and Trinamul, ahead of today's hearing.

'What can I do if they (Trinamul and Mamata) do not respond to the notice' asked Ali, a former member of Trinamul who currently heads the All India Minority Forum. Ali had moved court seeking an order restraining Trinamul from organising the 'anti-people bandh'.

The judges told Ali to arrange to have the fresh summons served on Mamata and Trinamul through courier and speedpost, as well as registered and general post, before November 29 when the case would be taken up for hearing again.

'We will give them another chance,' the judges said. 'They must come to the court and let us know what they think about bandhs and hartals which have been held illegal by the Supreme Court.'

The judges also threatened that they would expedite the hearing of the case and pass orders if Trinamul did not appear in court even after receiving the fresh summons.

'Would your government be able to carry out our order at short notice on resisting the Trinamul-sponsored bandh' the bench asked advocate-general Balai Ray. 'We would like to have a larger time scale because carrying out the order involves doing many things at once,' Ray said.

Even in the case of the November 17 bandh, called by the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), the government moved only after being forced to by the court.

Although the party chose to stay away from the hearing, several Trinamul supporters were in the large crowd that had assembled in the courtroom.

Earlier this week, the court had asked the SUCI to file an affidavit stating whether it would continue calling bandhs, violating the Supreme Court order.

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