Junior minister for legal leg-up

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 27.10.12
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Calcutta, Oct. 26: Junior health minister and lawyer Chandrima Bhattacharya will be given additional charge as minister of state for law to strengthen the department at a time the government is embroiled in a number of cases and is preparing to implement new laws.

Government sources said the proposal had been sent to the governor for his approval but the sanction had been delayed because of the 10-day festival break.

Now, the law department has one minister of cabinet rank — Malay Ghatak — and the junior minister’s post is vacant.

Chandrima practised in Calcutta High Court till the 2011 Assembly elections.

The sources said the need for a junior law minister had arisen not only because of the several cases being filed against the government but also because it had to contest in higher courts the cases it lost. At the same time, the department has to frame laws to implement the plans of the Mamata Banerjee government.

“So we needed another minister with a legal background in the law department to ease the pressure on Ghatak,” a Trinamul leader said.

He said the recent setbacks the government suffered in courts had prompted Mamata to take steps to bolster the law department.

“The ministers do not themselves go and argue cases in courts but the law department vets new laws and amendments. If a second minister is brought in, the vetting process will become more thorough,” a Trinamul minister said.

The government has challenged in the Supreme Court the high court’s rejection of the law through which it took back land for the Tata Nano factory in Singur.

The administration also suffered a setback with Calcutta High Court striking down the government amendment reducing the tenure of co-operative society boards from five years to three.

Chandrima said today: “The chief minister has asked me to be prepared to take the additional responsibility. I am ready for it. Once government offices reopen after Lakshmi Puja, the formalities will be completed.”