Calcutta High Court on Thursday allowed the state BJP’s 41-day state-wide yatra, originally scheduled from December 7, for which the state government had refused permission citing fears of “communal violence”.
The BJP must inform the district police chiefs at least 12 hours before entering their areas, follow all police regulations, and avoid disturbing traffic or the ecological balance. The judge said the party would be responsible for any loss or damage to property or life.
“The police are directed to provide adequate forces for maintaining law and order during the programme,” the court order said.
State advocate-general Kishore Dutta requested Justice Chakraborty to keep the order in abeyance “at least for a short while”, saying the state was busy making police arrangements for next month’s Ganga Sagar Mela. But the judge refused.
The state government’s lawyers said they would “challenge the legality” of Justice Chakraborty’s order before a division bench on Friday, the last working day before the 10-day Christmas vacation.
Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta retires on Friday and a meeting will be arranged to felicitate him, which is almost certain to curtail the court hours, sources said.
“It will be difficult for any division bench to hear the state’s appeal on Friday,” a lawyer said.
Asked for her reaction, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she did not wish to comment on a court order.
Justice Chakraborty said the December 15 order did not mention any reason and should therefore be considered baseless. The government order had cited “grave apprehension” of “major breach of peace” and “communal violence”.
The BJP lauded the court order, slammed Trinamul and questioned other parties’ “silence”.
“Congratulations to BJP, West Bengal for the high court judgement in their favour,” Union finance minister Arun Jaitley tweeted.
“Why are human rights activists and Opposition parties silent on denial of a right to a political party to organise its programme in West Bengal. If any NDA/BJP government had stopped an Opposition programme, it would have been called an ‘Undeclared Emergency’. Why silence now?”
State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said a new yatra schedule was being drawn up. According to the original schedule, a yatra was to start from Cooch Behar on December 7, a second from Kakdwip on December 9 and a third from Tarapith on December 14.