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Bail plea of art dealer rejected

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 28.06.13
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The case pertaining to the exhibition of fake Tagore paintings at the Government College of Art & Craft resurfaced after several months on Thursday, when a division bench of Justice Nishita Nirmal Mhatre and Justice Kanchan Chakrabarty rejected an anticipatory bail plea by Jayanta Banerjee.

The Dhanbad-based art dealer stands accused of being the source of the paintings for the exhibition held from February 27 to March 8, 2011.

The bench directed Banerjee to surrender before the CID, the investigating agency of the case, within seven days.

The exhibition was organised as part of the poet’s 150th anniversary celebrations by then principal, Dipali Bhattacharya.

At that time, Bhattacharya had claimed that Jayanta Banerjee had received the paintings from Rani Mahalanabis. This claim was refuted by both poet Sankha Ghosh and Tagore scholar Ketaki Kushari Dyson.

A Dhanbad city sessions court had rejected Banerjee’s anticipatory bail plea on December 8, 2012, and directed him to meet CID officers thrice a week.

The CID, in a recent FIR, alleged that for a long time, Banerjee was not carrying out the court’s directive and meeting the investigators.

The CID then issued a warrant of arrest order against Banerjee.

Apprehending arrest, Banerjee had moved a anticipatory bail plea before the Calcutta High Court division bench. Banerjee, an art dealer from a zamindar family, is said to be the current owner of 26A Fern Road, which once belonged to the ruler of Nepal.

At the time of the exhibition, serious doubts were raised about the authenticity of the paintings, and following a PIL by sculptor Tapas Sarkar, the Archaeological Survey of India examined the 20 works and declared them fake.

This verdict was corroborated by art historian Ratan Parimoo as well.

Dipali Bhattacharya retired from service last December. Last November she was granted anticipatory bail by the division bench of Justice Asim Roy and Justice Joymalya Bagchi.

The 20 fake paintings had been handed over to the CID in January. The CID had taken over the case on November 1. The agency had earlier interrogated both Dipali Bhattacharya and artist Jogen Chowdhury, who had bought one of the fakes.