High court delivers double whammy to Mamata regime

Kolkata, July 4 : West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee government Thursday suffered a double whammy in the Calcutta High Court which disapproved of her time frame for the Kamduni gang-rape and murder probe, and directed the regime to include all leading newspapers in the list of publications to be kept in state-run and aided libraries.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) pleading for the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the sexual assault on and killing of a college girl in North 24-Parganas district June 7, a division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi said it would monitor the probe.

The bench directed the CID to submit a report on the course of its inquiry by July 30, when the bench will again take up the matter.

The petition had sought that the court monitor investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The bench observed that if the head of the administration sets a deadline for completion of the inquiry, investigators would be put under pressure, and said the court would keep an eye on the probe.

During her visit to the house of the victim at Kamduni village June 17, Banerjee had said the charge sheet in the case would be submitted within 15 days.

"The charge sheet will be submitted before the court within 15 days. The trial will be fast-tracked to ensure the perpetrators are punished within a month. The administration is working to ensure the culprits are given the death penalty," Banerjee had said.

Without naming the chief minister, the bench observed that such comments result in the investigators rushing through the probe process, under pressure.

Saying that such statements were populist, the court said the head of the administration should exercise caution before making such comments.

The high court's directive and observations come a day after a fast-track court in Barasat criticised the state CID for submitting an incomplete charge sheet in the case.

The fast track court at Barasat Thursday fixed July 12 for submission of the charge sheet.

The state government suffered another setback when the same bench of the Calcutta High Court directed it to include all leading newspapers, some of which the regime last year dropped from the list, among the publications to be available in state-run and aided libraries.

Hearing a PIL moved by counsel Basabi Rai Chowdhury, Justice Mishra and Justice Bagchi asked the government to notify the names of leading newspapers, some of which the Banerjee regime last year dropped from the list of publications to be available, within two weeks.

The court said it would take necessary action if the government failed to comply with its directive in two weeks.

The matter would come up for hearing again on July 17.

The petitioner had claimed the government's action was tantamount to breaching Article 19 of the Constitution.

--IANS (Posted on 05-07-2013)

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