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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Sandeshkhali: SC grants 2 weeks to LS to respond to plea of West Bengal chief secretary, others

Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika, the then Director General of Police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar and others, including the district magistrate and superintendent of police of North 24 Parganas, were summoned to appear before the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha at 10:30 am on February 19

PTI New Delhi Published 15.04.24, 01:55 PM
Supreme Court of India.

Supreme Court of India. File picture.

The Supreme Court on Monday granted two weeks to the Lok Sabha Secretariat and others to file their replies to a plea moved by top bureaucrats from West Bengal against their summoning by the privileges committee of the Lower House of Parliament.

They were summoned by the Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha over a complaint of "misconduct" filed against them by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sukanta Majumdar when he was trying to visit violence-hit Sandeshkhali, a village in North 24 Parganas district of the state.

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On February 19, the top court stayed the notices issued by the privileges committee to the West Bengal chief secretary, director general of police (DGP) and others.

Majumdar was hospitalised following clashes between BJP workers and police personnel after the workers of the saffron party were stopped from visiting Sandeshkhali.

Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika, the then Director General of Police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar and others, including the district magistrate and superintendent of police of North 24 Parganas, were summoned to appear before the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha at 10:30 am on February 19.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Lok Sabha Secretariat (Privileges and Ethics Branch), and senior advocates Abhishek Singhvi and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who appeared in the court on behalf of the state officials, and posted the plea for hearing after two weeks.

"The parties shall file a brief note, not exceeding five pages, on or before two weeks and the matter will be listed exactly after two weeks," the CJI said.

Singhvi told the court that the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha has never acted so fast and moreover, there was "no breach by any iota of imagination".

The court ordered on February 19 that "there shall be a stay of further proceedings in pursuance of the Office Memorandum dated February 15 ... issued to the petitioners".

While staying the notices issued to the state officials, the bench had listed the plea for hearing on March 22.

The CJI's bench had taken the pleas moved by the West Bengal officials as the first matter on an urgent mentioning by the senior officials.

The lawyer representing the Lok Sabha Secretariat had opposed the grant of stay by the court, saying this was the first sitting of the privileges committee.

"They are not being accused of anything. This is a regular process. Once an MP sends a notice and the speaker thinks there is something to look into, notices are issued," the counsel had said, adding that this was the "threshold stage".

Besides the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha, Majumdar, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Ministry of Home Affairs are the respondents to the petition filed by the state officials.

Majumdar and others were stopped from entering Sandeshkhali, where women were agitating over alleged atrocities committed against them by Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh and his aides.

Several women in the region have accused Sheikh and his supporters of land-grab and sexually assaulting them under coercion.

Sheikh, who was on the run, was subsequently arrested.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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