Earlier, the word “conspiracy” was hurled at the Union government or the BJP in case of any central agency probe into any matter in West Bengal. Although that still continues, of late Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has found a new target on this issue.
Having faced adverse judgements in the Calcutta High Court in all education sector recruitment related cases, that ultimately led to central agency probes, Mamata Banerjee has recently blamed the petitioners in these matters. She asked the petitioners to withdraw their petitions to enable the state government to re-start the process of teachers’ recruitment to make room for them.
At the same time she advised the petitioners to hound their lawyers who won the legal battle for them in the Calcutta High Court to arrange jobs for them.
IANS spoke to a number of legal brains. All of them said that the legal fraternity in West Bengal has termed this action of the chief minister as sheer disregard of the judicial system and an expression of her fear.
Senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court and former Kolkata Mayor, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who was the principal counsel for the petitioners in the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment scam, became the principal target of the chief minister on this count. “Bikash Bhattacharya has lots of money. Go and ask him so that he arranges your jobs since he has been responsible for the court orders that have stopped recruitment of 17,000 teachers,” Mamata Banerjee recently told the petitioners at a public rally.
Speaking to IANS, Bhattacharya said that this advice of Mamata Banerjee is an expression of her disregard of the judicial system and also an indirect admission that the earlier recruitments were done flouting all norms. “By asking the petitioners to withdraw the cases as a chief minister she is justifying the irregular recruitments. Had there not been irregularities there would not have been so many petitions. And what will the petitioners get by hounding me. I just appeared as a counsel on behalf of the petitioners. I did not file the petitions,” he said.
Speaking to IANS, Calcutta High Court Bar Association president and senior advocate, Arunava Ghosh questioned whether the chief minister can give a written declaration that jobs for all those deprived will be ensured if the petitions are withdrawn. “I think Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya would have asked this particular question to the chief minister and would have thrown an open challenge. Mamata Banerjee made a political statement without understanding the legal implications of asking the petitioners to withdraw their petitions and that too from the chair of the chief minister. Remember, she made this appeal to the petitioners at an administrative review meeting which she was chairing as the chief minister,” Ghosh said.
Another senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, Kaushik Gupta pointed out that when anyone feels deprived or is a victim of injustice, he or she has the fundamental and constitutional right to knock on the doors of the judiciary. “Now by asking the petitioners to withdraw the petitions just because the court verdict had gone against the state government, the chief minister, who herself holds a degree in law, has disregarded that fundamental right to approach the judiciary for justice. If the chief minister feels that any particular court order has not been justified, who is stopping her or her government in approaching a higher bench or a higher court. But probably she also knows very well that approaching higher benches or higher courts will not make any difference,” Gupta said.
Calcutta High Court advocate Jyoti Prakash Khan took special objection to the chief minister asking the petitioners to hound their counsel for arranging jobs for them. “This is nothing but indirect instigation. If the counsel concerned approaches the court claiming insecurity since the instigation has come from none else but the chief minister, then things can really take a serious turn. In my opinion such expressions on the part of the chief minister are out of fear, understanding that the judiciary is taking an extremely tough stand with regard to the teachers’ recruitment irregularities and the corruption involved,” Khan said.
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