PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Kolkata: A division bench of the Calcutta High Court Friday quashed a single bench order that had allowed BJP’s ‘Rath Yatra’ in West Bengal and asked it to hear the case afresh to consider intelligence inputs by state agencies.

The single-judge bench of Tapabrata Chakraborty was asked to dispose the matter expeditiously after considering whether there were adequate materials to arrive at the conclusion to allow the ‘yatra’ as proposed by the BJP. The division bench said the order needs to consider afresh the 36 intelligence inputs submitted by the state government before the single bench.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta, representing the state, said that the single bench had not considered the intelligence inputs submitted to it in a sealed cover and had returned it to him without even opening it.

He had submitted intelligence inputs from 31 police districts and five police commisionerates before the bench, which he said talked about apprehension of communal unrest if the BJP’s proposed roadshows were allowed.

The ‘Rath Yatra’, which was originally scheduled to start on December 7 but was denied permission by the state government, has become the latest political flashpoint between the saffron party and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.

After hearing an appeal by the BJP, a single-judge bench of the high court had on Thursday allowed the mega event, to be flagged off by BJP president Amit Shah under a re-scheduled programme from December 28 to 31.

The West Bengal government, however, challenged the ruling before a division bench of Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar, which has now quashed the earlier ruling and sent the case back to the single-judge bench. In its appeal, the government expressed urgency and sought immediate hearing of the matter.

Setting aside the denial of permission by the state government, the single-judge bench had allowed the ‘yatra’ while noting that courts can interfere if administrative authorities exercise their discretionary powers in a whimsical manner.

Following the court order, the BJP had come up with tentative new dates for its proposed three-phase programme. After the new order, there is uncertainty once again over the mega event that was to cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Earlier on December 6, the same single-judge bench had refused permission to the BJP to hold the ‘Rath Yatra’, which was scheduled to be flagged off by Shah from Cooch Behar on December 7. The party had then approached the division bench.

The division bench had then asked the state chief secretary, the home secretary and the director general of police to hold a meeting with representatives of the BJP and take a decision on the ‘yatra’ by December 14.

After parleys with the BJP team, the three officers refused permission for the rallies on December 15 on grounds that they might lead to communal tensions. Following this, the state BJP had moved the court of Justice Chakraborty again challenging the government’s denial of permission and had got a go-ahead on Thursday.

Free Press Journal

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