At Kolkata High Court, kissa kursi ka with a twist

Ashoka Pillar symbol case
Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Bhaskar Bhattacharya vacated his chair in the middle of a session on Friday and refused to occupy it after being informed that the words "Satyameva Jayate" was not inscribed below the Ashoka Pillar symbol.

The incident took place during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the improper use of the National Emblem across the state, when advocate Tapash Bhanja pointed out that even the chair being occupied by the acting Chief Justice did not have the words Satyameva Jayate inscribed under the National Emblem.

Bhattacharya then got up from his chair and left the courtroom. He returned only when his chair was changed. Interestingly, officials of the High Court could not find a replacement that met the requirements and ended up getting a chair used by other judges of the High Court for the acting Chief Justice.

Bhattacharya also directed the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court, Tarun Kumar Gupta, to take necessary steps against the improper use of the National Emblem in the court premises. With the High Court passing necessary orders to stop the improper use of the National Emblem, the same should be maintained by the court as well, he said.

Advocates, initially taken aback by the incident, later lauded the acting Chief Justice's decision. At the Calcutta High Court, only the Chief Justice's chair bears the National Emblem.

According to the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, Satyameva Jayate must be written under the National Emblem.

Kamal Dey, the editor of a Bengal monthly, had filed a PIL in January seeking the High Court's intervention in preventing the improper use of the National Emblem across the state. A Division Bench of former Chief Justice S S Nijjar had directed the state and Central governments to take steps towards ensuring the same. On Friday, the Bench, comprising the acting Chief Justice and Justice Prasenjit Mondal asked the counsel of the state and Central governments to submit their compliance reports in the court within three weeks.

Bhanja said the National Emblem was not being properly used even in the Calcutta High Court. The orderlies in the High Court wear uniforms that carry the National Emblem, but without the word Satyameva Jayate inscribed on it. After going through photographs placed before the Bench, the Justices called the registrar general to the courtroom and asked him to rectify the matter.

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