The court of the executive magistrate of Bolpur on Thursday directed police to maintain status quo on the land of Pratichi, the ancestral home of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen after he sought legal protection, amid apprehension that he might be dispossessed of the land in his absence by Visva-Bharati.
"The order will prevent Visva-Bharati from taking any stretch of Pratichi land into their possession until the case is disposed of in court. The status quo will prevail on the plot of Pratichi till June 6 when the case will be heard again in the presence of representatives of both Sen and Visva-Bharati. The police also have been asked to maintain peace and tranquillity over the land," said a senior state government order.
The order was issued under Section 145 of the CrPC that allowed a magistrate to prevent breach of peace.
The order was issued after the magistrate sought a detailed report from Santiniketan police on whether there was a chance of a law and order issue related to the Pratichi plot.
The police in their Thursday report said any dispute over the Pratichi land might result in law and order problems.
"Shri Sen is an eminent economist and a Nobel laureate. He has a large number of students and followers in Santiniketan as well as throughout Bolpur, who may get annoyed if any Opposition party (Visva-Bharati) member of this petition disturbs the peaceful possession of the land in question," the court order quoted a part of the police report.
A police team was deployed near Pratichi since Thursday following the order to prevent any intervention as far as the plot is concerned. A copy of the order has been afficed near Pratichi.
A senior official said the order issued by the executive magistrate could be dismissed only if a higher court issues an order to that effect.
Gitikantha Majumdar, who is taking care of Sen's property in his absence, on Wednesday applied before the court in Bolpur seeking legal protection with apprehension that Visva-Bharati may dispossess Sen during his absence because of a legal process that the varsity started last month against Sen under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Rules, 1971, to evict him from 13 decimals of Pratichi land. The said rule allows the central government or its organisations to evict unauthorised occupants from public land.
Visva-Bharati had in January sent three letters to Sen asking him to hand over the 13 decimals (0.13 acres) that it claimed he was occupying illegally in addition to 125 decimals (1.25 acres) leased to his family.
Sen had denied any unauthorised occupation of land.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee in January handed over land-related documents to Sen in Santiniketan that made it clear that the plot leased to his father Ashutosh Sen measured 1.38 acres and not 1.25 acres.
Based on the papers, the state government transferred the leasehold rights of 1.38 acres of Pratichi in Santiniketan in the economist's name on March 20.
"We sent three letters to Visva-Bharati seeking time for the legal process to begin as Professor Sen will be back in his Santiniketan home only in June this year. He is outside the country now.... We moved court after Visva-Bharati told us it would not wait till June and gave the April 13 deadline to appear before the team," said Majumdar.