The Telegraph
Thursday , October 4 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Farewell for chief justice

Calcutta, Oct. 3: The Mamata Banerjee government has arranged a farewell ceremony for Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jainarayan Patel, who is set to retire tomorrow.

Senior officials at Writers’ Buildings said they could not readily recollect another instance in Bengal where the administration had arranged a farewell ceremony for a departing chief justice.

State law minister Malay Ghatak confirmed this. “Yes, it is the first time that such a programme is being organised. Our government is doing several new things that previous governments had not thought of doing,” Ghatak said.

The programme where a number of serving judges and at least five ministers, including the chief minister, will be present will be organised on October 5 — a day after the chief justice retires — at Town Hall.

Asked if such a programme would send a wrong message as governments are always involved in some case or the other being heard in courts, Ghatak said: “There is nothing wrong in arranging this programme because we are giving farewell to the chief justice a day after he retires. We are not organising a welcome ceremony for any incoming chief justice.”

The chief minister had flown to Nagpur on a chartered flight on March 13 to attend the wedding of Justice Patel’s daughter.

A minister in the Mamata cabinet said: “The farewell ceremony is being dragged into unnecessary controversy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had hosted a farewell dinner for Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia on September 27. If no question was raised at that time, why are questions being raised here?”

The high court is looking into whether the chief minister committed contempt of court over her remarks on some judges during a seminar in the Assembly on August 14, but the chief justice is not part of the bench.

A section of advocates in Calcutta High Court feels there is nothing wrong with arranging such a programme for a retired chief justice.

Advocate Subroto Mookherjee said: “The chief minister has done nothing wrong because the Prime Minister had hosted a farewell dinner for the Chief Justice of India.”