Calcutta HC declines to initiate suo motu contempt against Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee

Advising Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to "lace her speech with moderation", the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday declined to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against her for commenting on the judiciary.

Its reluctance should not be construed as its approval of her 'act', it said.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi, observed that it was not persuaded by senior counsel Bikash Bhattacharya's submission that the chief minister's speech transcended the "laxmanrekha" of criticism.

The Bench said as such it was unwilling to invoke its powers for issuing contempt rule against the chief minister.

"We, therefore, decline to initiate contempt proceedings," the Bench said.

The court, however, observed "After all the speaker is the chief minister of the state. Her speech should be laced with moderation."

After hearing the verbal prayer for initiating suo motu contempt action, the Bench had yesterday reserved its order on whether it was criticism for betterment of the judiciary or disrespect shown to it.

The Bench had observed that the chief minister was speaking at a seminar on August 14 and everyone could have their own opinion.

It observed that Banerjee had not mentioned any particular case or court.

Bhattacharya had stated that contempt proceedings had been drawn up against Minister of State Becharam Manna by the court for making alleged derogatory comments against the judiciary and as such similar steps be taken against Banerjee.

The court had said in the case of Manna, the allegation was that he had commented against a particular order, but here the alleged comment was not directed against any particular order or court.

During the course of her address at the seminar on August 14, Banerjee had said "What I see. Why should many judgements today be delivered for money? Why? I am sorry to say.

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