The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday refused to initiate suo motu criminal contempt proceeding against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her remarks alleging corruption in judiciary. However, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Jaymalya Bagchi advised the Chief Minister to “lace her speech with moderation” and added that its decision not to initiate contempt proceedings against her should not be considered as approving her remarks about the judiciary.
On the eve of the Independence Day this year, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while speaking at a seminar in the Assembly had said judgments could be purchased, creating an uproar. Her remark had come in the days following the High Court’s decision to term the Singur rehabilitation Act — a signature law enacted by her government — as unconstitutional. Following her remark, several lawyers had urged the High Court to initiate suo motu contempt contempt proceedings against the Chief Minister saying she had maligned the judiciary and people would lose their faith on the constitutional body.
Rejecting the plea, the Division Bench on Tuesday observed that the remarks passed by the Chief Minister did not cross the Lakshmanrekha of scandalising the court or obstructing the administration of justice. The bench also said the Chief Minister was speaking at a seminar and everyone could have their own opinion. It observed Mamata had not mentioned any particular case or court.
However, it added: “We make it clear that our reluctance to initiate suo motu proceedings should not be taken as approval of the statements made by the Chief Minister.”
Further it said the comments were made by Chief Minster, a constitutional post. So the High Court expected that she should be laced with moderation and temperance to pass remarks in future, the bench said. “The imputation were neither moderate not couched in temperate language although the same in contextual matter according to us may not constitute an act of criminal proceedings,” it went on to add.
Minister Manna appears in court
Trinamool Congress MLA and Minister of State for Agriculture, Becharam Manna, on Tuesday appeared before the Division Bench of Justices Pratap Kumar Roy and Subal Baidya of Calcutta High Court in connection with the contempt rule for making “derogatory” remarks against the judiciary.
Government counsel Ashoke Banerjee urged the court to exempt Manna from personal appearance. The bench allowed it and directed Manna to file an affidavit in four weeks stating why suo motu contempt proceeding should not be drawn against him. Next hearing is after six weeks.
The HC spared Mamata Banerjee by not initiating contempt proceeedings against her, but not in the case of her minister Becharam Manna. The court explained it saying Manna allegedly commented against a particular court verdict, but Mamata did not cite any judgment or court.