Mahato trial illegal: Lawyer to HC

Chhatradhar Mahato

Calcutta: The lawyer appearing for Chhatradhar Mahato, the face of the Lalgarh movement backed by Maoists, claimed before the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday that his client was illegally tried and convicted under the UAPA (Unlawful Activity Prevention Act).

Sekhar Bose, the counsel appearing for Mahato seeking his bail, told a division bench that since an independent authority, either appointed by the state or the central government, did not review the charges against Mahato before slapping him with the stringent provisions of the UAPA, the probe against Mahato was "ineffective".

Bose said in a case under the code of criminal procedure (CrPC), the court of law can review the charges.

"But if an accused is booked under the UAPA, review of the charges against him or her is required from an independent authority set up either by the state or the central government. In case of my client (Mahato), no such review was conducted by an independent authority before trying him under the UAPA. So investigation and the trial against him became ineffective," he claimed before the division bench of Justice Jaymalya Bagchi and Justice Ravi Krishan Kapoor.

During his submission in the high court on Wednesday, Bose claimed that it was a fundamental right of his client to get the opportunity of a review of the charges brought against him by an independent authority.

He claimed that his client should get justice and immediately be released from jail.

The state public prosecutor, Saswata Gopal Mukherjee, was present in court during the submission by Bose but he did not make any comment on the case during day. Mukherjee's submission in this particular case would be vital because that will reflect whether the state government is against Mahato's release from jail.

The stance of the state government is closely watched as one of the two sons of Chhatradhar Mahato has bagged a semi-government job and the other appears close to becoming a police constable.

"There is a speculation about the possibility of the Bengal government trying to rehabilitate the jailed Lalgarh movement leader. So the state's response would be interesting," said a source.

Trinamul sources suggested that setbacks in Jhargram in the May rural polls had necessitated an outreach to the Mahato community, which makes up 30 per cent of the district's electorate, and good ties with Chhatradhar could help.

Mahato, once the leader of the People Committee Against Police Atrocities, the forum spearheaded the Lalgarh movement in 2008-09 under Maoists' supervision, was arrested in connection with Gyeneswari Express derailment case in May, 2010, and he was booked under the UAPA.

The incident claimed 148 lives Mahato has been serving a life term for the past eight years.

Along with his bail petition, Mahato also filed an appeal before the same division bench seeking quashing of the charges against him.

The division bench decided to hear both the appeal for quashing the charges and the bail application on July 25.


Back to top icon