Mamata Banerjee opts out of Justice Ganguly event, Somnath to attend

The allegation of sexual harassment against West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) chairman Justice A K Ganguly and his prima facie indicting by a Supreme Court panel have cast a shadow on an International Human Rights Day programme the WBHRC has organised here on Tuesday. Many high-profile invitees are likely to skip the programme, though Ganguly may attend it. The WBHRC, however, could not confirm if he will be there and he did not attend office on Monday.

Government sources said after some of the speakers mentioned in the original invitation card for the programme, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, did not officially confirm participation, the WBHRC had to print fresh invites.

The original invite said Mamata would be the inaugural speaker. But sources said she declined to attend the programme and the CMO called the WBHRC office, forcing it to junk the around 300 cards it had printed and reprint another 300 without her name.

The new card also omits several other names. It does not mentioned Naparajit Mukherjee, who recently retired as Director General of Police, West Bengal, and joined the WBHRC as a non-judicial member. The original invite said he would deliver the welcome address. Mukherjee refused to comment.

The original card also mentioned Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Arun Mishra as a speaker but the new one only has his designation and says he will deliver a special address.

Ashok Subramanium, a senior official in the CMO, said, "The Chief Minister does not have any human rights programme in her December 10 schedule. There is nothing more to say." A High Court official said: "If the Chief Justice fails to attend the programme, the acting chief justice will attend." Mir Dara Sheko, the High Court registrar general, said, "It cannot be said now whether the Chief Justice will attend the programme."

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