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Calcutta High Court's interim stay on eviction notice to Amartya Sen a breather

Justice Bibhas Ranjan De also requested district judge to hear stay application filed by Sen on May 10 instead of May 15

Tapas Ghosh And Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 05.05.23, 06:53 AM
Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen File picture

Calcutta High Court on Thursday issued an interim stay order on Visva-Bharati’s eviction notice to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen till the Birbhum district judge disposed of the stay application.

In his order, Justice Bibhas Ranjan De also requested the district judge to hear the stay application filed by Sen on May 10 instead of May 15, the date fixed earlier.

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“Having heard the learned advocates, the learned district judge, Birbhum, is requested to hear the stay application on May 10, 2023 at 2pm, and till then the order of the joint registrar Visva-Bharati and estate officer should not be enforced, or till the date of disposal of the stay application, whichever is later,” the order issued by Justice De reads.

Sen’s lawyers on April 26 approached the Birbhum district judge, seeking a stay on Visva-Bharati’s April 19 eviction order.

The plea by Sen’s lawyers was not heard on Thursday, but the acting district judge, Sarajit Majumder, scheduled a hearing on May 15. District judge Sudeshna De (Chatterjee) is on leave.

A source in the district judge’s court said the district judge would resume work on May 8.

Visva-Bharati on April 19 issued an eviction notice to Sen, with a threat of using force to evict him from the 13 decimals of land, which, according to the varsity, is under his “unauthorised” occupation.

The interim order issued by the high court brought some relief to Sen’s supporters in the varsity town.

“We are really happy with the stay order issued by Calcutta High Court. Visva-Bharati was so desperate that they filed a caveat before the district judge’s court to prevent the economist from getting a stay order easily,” said Gitikantha Majumdar, currently taking care of Pratichi-related issues in the physical absence of Sen, who is abroad. If a caveat is filed, a court can’t pass an order without hearing out both parties.

“This is certainly a legal shield for us till the subject is disposed of in the court of the district judge of Birbhum,” he added.

Sen is likely to visit Pratichi next month.

Visva-Bharati’s acting public relations officer Mahua Banerjee said the varsity would follow the high court directive.

Visva-Bharati’s acting registrar Manabendranath Saha wrote to the district police and administration, requesting them to prevent protests by civil society groups near Pratichi, claiming it might lead to breach of peace on campus.

In a letter to Santiniketan police, acting registrar Saha claimed life-threatening and derogatory leaflets and messages against vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty and other varsity officials were being distributed.

“If we get a no-objection report from police for the gatherings, we will issue the permit,” said Bolpur sub-divisional officer Ayan Nath.

From Friday to Sunday, civil society platforms Samajik Marjada Raksha Samiti and Visva-Bharati Bachao Committee will host various events near Pratichi to show their solidarity with the Nobel laureate.

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