Kolkata HC questions arrest of Chowdhury

Last Updated 18 December 2013, 19:55 IST

The Mamata Banerjee government in the state has fallen over yet another legal stumbling block, this time over arresting Siladitya Chowdhury. The Kolkata High Court has questioned its decision to arrest him for asking about local development at a rally the chief minister was addressing.

Chowdhury, a Junglemahal resident, was arrested last year for being a Maoist when he posed a difficult question about local development at Mamata Banerjee when she addressed a public meeting at Belpahari in West Midnapore, about 200 kms from Kolkata. The area was until recently the heartland of naxalism in the state.

Chowdhury’s case was first raised by the now tainted state Human Rights Commission chairman A K Ganguly.

“Is the human rights commission a wall clock such that the government can sit and listen to its ticking away?” asked Justice Sanjib Banerjee following the state’s failure to come up with a definite reply on when it is going to pay a Rs 2 lakh compensation to Chowdhury, deemed not guilty by the HRC.

The government council argued that the state wants to wait until a lower court finishes hearing on criminal charges against Chowdhury.

The high court, however, refused to entertain what Justice Banerjee termed as “dilly-dallying” on the part of the government, directing it to provide details of the criminal charges pending against Chowdhury.

The government pleader said charges have been filed against Chowdhury for barging into a high security zone and shoving a police officer on duty, but Justice Banerjee asked if that would amount to Chowdhury being a Maoist. With the hearing in the case to come up again, the state seems set to face more embarrassments.

(Published 18 December 2013, 19:55 IST)

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