West Bengal government to file affidavit in cartoon case

Kolkata, Nov 13 : The Calcutta High Court Wednesday directed the West Bengal government to submit an affidavit in reply to a petition by a Jadavpur University professor and his neighbour, arrested last year for circulating a mocking email.

The email contained a cartoon mocking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The court gave the state government three weeks to file the affidavit.

It gave one week to Ambikesh Mahapatra, the professor, to file his counter-affidavit.

The matter will come up for hearing after four weeks, said Mahapatra's lawyer Shamim Ahmed.

Mahapatra had moved court Nov 6 demanding that the state government implement recommendations made by the state human rights panel in connection with the case.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission had taken cognisance of the case and launched an investigation.

Aug 13, 2012, the state Human Rights Commission recommended that Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta be given compensation of Rs.50,000 each for the manner in which they were arrested and detained for a non-cognisable offence.

The panel had also recommended initiating departmental proceedings against two police officers of East Jadavpur police station for effecting the arrests.

However, in May, the state government turned down the recommendations arguing that the circumstances of the arrests did not appear to be a case of human rights violation.

Mahapatra and Sengupta were arrested in April last year for circulating the collage of cartoons in the email mocking Banerjee.

While the police action attracted widespread criticism, Banerjee justified the arrest and went on to say the circulation of the mail was part of a "conspiracy to eliminate her".

She even branded the professor a "CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) man".

--IANS (Posted on 13-11-2013)

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