Ensure law & order during trade unions’ strike: Calcutta High Court to WB govt

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the West Bengal government to take necessary steps for ensuring law and order in the state in view of a nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions on Wednesday.

The high court was hearing a PIL moved by a practising lawyer seeking a direction to the state government to make sure that there is no disruption of normal life during the strike.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee also directed the administration to ensure that examinations in colleges and competitive tests are not hampered owing to the strike.

Trade unions INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC along with various sectoral independent federations and associations had adopted a declaration in September last year to go on a nationwide strike on January 8.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Monday said she was all in favour of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and other issues, but her party will not resort to the “cheap politics” of strikes.

Bhatpara TMC councillors move appeal against Calcutta High Court.

Trinamool Congress councillors on Friday moved an appeal before a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, challenging a single bench order that set aside a no-confidence motion brought by the party against the chairman of Bhatpara Municipality.

The division bench comprising Justices Dipankar Datta and Protik Prakash Banerjee directed that the matter would be taken up for hearing on Monday.

The no-confidence motion against BJP chairman Sourav Singh was passed by a margin of 19-0 in the 35-member civic body on Thursday, as other councillors were not present during the proceedings.

The single bench, however, declared that the meeting called on January 2 for moving the no-confidence motion as “null and void”.

Lawyers for the TMC councillors moved the division bench in the morning, praying for an urgent hearing, but the court refused to take up the appeal, stating that it would need a copy of the single bench order and the plea has to be filed in the high court registry.

The counsel then obtained a copy of the single bench order later in the day and filed a petition before the division bench, which then directed that the appeal moved by three TMC councillors of Bhatpara Municipality would be taken up for hearing on Monday.

After hearing a writ petition by a BJP member of the civic body, challenging the notice issued by the three TMC councillors for a meeting to move a no-confidence motion against Singh, Justice Arindam Sinha on Thursday said “any action taken pursuant thereto is of no consequence.”

The Bhatpara Municipality chairman had convened a meeting on January 20 for bringing the no-confidence motion.

However, TMC councillors refused to wait till then and issued a notice on December 30 for holding the meeting on January 2.

The BJP petitioner argued that councillors cannot issue such a notice on their own, as it was against the state municipal laws.

Equations had changed in the civic body last year, with 26 TMC councillors switching over to the BJP following the Lok Sabha polls.

BJP MP Arjun Singh, who was earlier the chairman of the Trinamool Congress-run board, resigned and his nephew Sourav Singh took charge in June.

Over the past few months, however, most the defectors returned to the ruling party, following which the TMC councillors moved a no-confidence motion against the chairman.

Bhatpara TMC councillors move appeal against Calcutta High Court.

Trinamool Congress councillors on Friday moved an appeal before a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, challenging a single bench order that set aside a no-confidence motion brought by the party against the chairman of Bhatpara Municipality.

The division bench comprising Justices Dipankar Datta and Protik Prakash Banerjee directed that the matter would be taken up for hearing on Monday.

The no-confidence motion against BJP chairman Sourav Singh was passed by a margin of 19-0 in the 35-member civic body on Thursday, as other councillors were not present during the proceedings.

The single bench, however, declared that the meeting called on January 2 for moving the no-confidence motion as “null and void”.

Lawyers for the TMC councillors moved the division bench in the morning, praying for an urgent hearing, but the court refused to take up the appeal, stating that it would need a copy of the single bench order and the plea has to be filed in the high court registry.

The counsel then obtained a copy of the single bench order later in the day and filed a petition before the division bench, which then directed that the appeal moved by three TMC councillors of Bhatpara Municipality would be taken up for hearing on Monday.

After hearing a writ petition by a BJP member of the civic body, challenging the notice issued by the three TMC councillors for a meeting to move a no-confidence motion against Singh, Justice Arindam Sinha on Thursday said “any action taken pursuant thereto is of no consequence.”

The Bhatpara Municipality chairman had convened a meeting on January 20 for bringing the no-confidence motion.

However, TMC councillors refused to wait till then and issued a notice on December 30 for holding the meeting on January 2.

The BJP petitioner argued that councillors cannot issue such a notice on their own, as it was against the state municipal laws.

Equations had changed in the civic body last year, with 26 TMC councillors switching over to the BJP following the Lok Sabha polls.

BJP MP Arjun Singh, who was earlier the chairman of the Trinamool Congress-run board, resigned and his nephew Sourav Singh took charge in June.

Over the past few months, however, most the defectors returned to the ruling party, following which the TMC councillors moved a no-confidence motion against the chairman.

Calcutta High Court stresses on mediation to reduce backlog of cases.

With the number of pending litigations before it touching 2.29 lakh, the Calcutta High Court is stressing on alternative dispute redressal mechanism like mediation to reduce the backlog.

The high court is encouraging litigants involved in various disputes, from commercial to matrimonial issues, to go for mediation to resolve their differences, instead of fighting their cases in the courts that may take a long time before any outcome is reached.

As Justice Harish Tandon of the Calcutta High Court put it, “Mediation is an effective tool for redressal of disputes between contesting litigants, where parties can settle their differences in a win-win situation.”

“We have been facing problem in tackling huge pendency of cases,” Justice Tandon said in an interaction with mediapersons on mediation as an effective alternative dispute redressal system.

Though the Arbitration and Conciliation Act has been in place since 1996, giving settlement of disputes through mediation a legal sanction, it has not been quite popular among the people, mainly owing to a lack of knowledge about it.

To raise awareness among people, the Mediation and Conciliation Committee of the high court organised a four-day workshop from November 15 in association with the Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives (FSRI) of the USA and CAMP Arbitration and Mediation Practices of Bengaluru.

The programme was aimed at augmenting the process of mediation across West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and bringing down the ever-increasing pile of pending cases in different courts within this region, Justice Tandon said.

It was designed to spread awareness and interact with all kinds of stakeholders in the field of mediation, including the mediators themselves, the litigants, advocates, law firms and referral judges of different district and sub-divisions of West Bengal.

“The concept of pre-litigation mediation in the field of commercial and matrimonial disputes were also discussed,” he said.

To achieve the desired exposure of mediation as an effective tool for dispute resolution, the stakeholders decided that awareness programmes would be held to sensitise people at the grassroot level, he said.

On June 30 this year, there were 2,29,103 cases pending before the Calcutta High Court, of which the majority were civil cases at 1,89,976, according to data provided in its website.

A little over 2.22 lakh cases were pending before the high court as on December 31, 2017, as per official data.

Out of a sanctioned judge strength of 72, the Calcutta High Court at present has 40 judges.

Out of the 40, two judges are permanently on rotation at the Andaman and Nicobar circuit bench of the high court and another two judges at the Jalpaiguri circuit bench.

Metro project: Calcutta High Court gives permission to move tunnel-boring machine up to 5 metres

The Calcutta High Court allowed the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation (KMRC) on Monday to move a tunnel-boring machine up to five metres in the city’s Bowbazar area, where an aquifer burst in August during drilling operations, leading to several houses collapsing.

The KMRC had moved the high court seeking its permission to move the machine for maintenance work.

The court had, in September, ordered suspension of the tunnelling work for the East-West Metro corridor, following the Bowbazar incident.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee directed the KMRC to work in accordance with the recommendations of an expert committee on shifting of the boring machine.

The bench directed the KMRC to submit a report on completion of the work by December 16, when the matter will be taken up for hearing again.

A committee, comprising experts from various countries, submitted a report to the court on Friday, saying the shifting of the tunnel-boring machine by up to five metres was necessary for maintenance work and would be done under its supervision.

“The committee members are of the unanimous opinion that the shifting of the machine by about five metres will not result in soil subsidence and as such not affect life or property above the ground over the distance over which the machine is proposed to be shifted,” the report said.

The KMRC, which is executing the East-West Metro project in the city, had told the high court on November 8 that the boring machine was at the site since the accident on August 31 and moving it by five metres was necessary to ensure that it remained functional.

The committee has proposed that the ground around the boring machine be sealed with polyurethane grout and work be carried out under the supervision and in the presence of its chairman, Leonard John Endicott, a geotechnical expert from Hong Kong.

The other members in the committee include Guy David Christopher Bridges, a tunnel-boring machine expert from Hong Kong, Neelakantan Kumar Pitchumani, a geotechnical expert from Chennai, and Suman Dutta, a structural expert from Kolkata.

The report also suggested that additional monitoring points be installed on the surface and below to detect any ground movement.

The court is hearing a PIL seeking termination of underground drilling for metro tunnels in congested areas. The PIL has also challenged the provisions of the Metro Railway (Construction of Works) Act, 1978.

Two machines were deployed to dig parallel tunnels for the underground East-West Metro line, one of which had hit a water pocket, leading to a huge ground subsidence.

Several buildings in the congested area collapsed or developed cracks, leaving hundreds homeless.

The KMRC has told the court that work for 9.8 km of the 10.9-km-long underground tunnel has been completed for the metro corridor.

Tunnels have been bored under the Hooghly river to connect the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah through the rapid transit system, spanning a length of 16.6 km from Howrah Maidan to IT hub Sector V in Salt Lake.

The new corridor passes through some of Kolkata’s most-congested areas, dotted by century-old buildings, several of which are in a dilapidated condition.

Saradha scam: Calcutta High Court vacates order granting protection from arrest to ex-top cop

The Calcutta High Court on Friday vacated its order granting protection from arrest to former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.

The court also rejected Kumar’s prayer for quashing of a CBI notice that sought his appearance for questioning in the case.

Kumar, who is currently the West Bengal CID Additional Director General, was part of a Special Investigation Team set up by the state government to investigate the scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chit fund cases.

The Saradha group of companies has allegedly duped lakhs of people to the tune of Rs 2500 crore, promising higher rates of returns on their investments.

Calcutta High Court to hear Mukul Roy’s anticipatory bail plea on Friday

The Calcutta High Court on Friday will hear an anticipatory bail plea of BJP leader Mukul Roy in a case of alleged payout for a railway panel membership.

His protection from arrest will expire on Thursday midnight.

A division bench of justices S Munshi and S Dasgupta, before whom Roy’s anticipatory bail plea was mentioned on Thursday, directed that it will hear the petition on Friday.

Roy was granted a week-long protection from arrest by Justice Munshi on August 29.

Roy moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail in a case of cheating filed by Santu Ganguly against Baban Ghosh, who claims to be a local BJP labour wing leader.

Ganguly alleged in the FIR that Ghosh had taken Roy’s name while assuring him a membership in the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee and took a bribe of several lakhs from him.

Following Ghosh’s arrest in the case by the Kolkata Police on August 21, Roy moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail, since his name had cropped up in the case.

Calcutta High Court grants interim protection to MP Soumitra Khan who has joined BJP

The Calcutta High Court on Monday gave MP Soumitra Khan, who had recently joined the BJP after quitting Trinamool Congress, interim protection from arrest for four weeks in connection with cases of allegedly taking money on the promise of giving jobs.

Hearing an application by the Bishnupur MP for anticipatory bail in connection with the cases, a division bench headed by Justice Joymalya Bagchi directed Khan not to enter the jurisdiction of Bankura district till further order.

In complaints lodged with Barjora police station in Bankura district, three persons had alleged that Khan had taken money from them in 2018 on the promise of securing them government jobs.

They claimed that they had not been given jobs despite having paid money to the MP.

Praying for anticipatory bail to Khan, his lawyers Sandipan Ganguly and Suvasish Dasgupta submitted that the complaints were false and motivated and that the MP was a victim of political vendetta.

They told the division bench, also comprising Justice M Mandal, that the criminal cases were lodged on January 10, 2019, a day after he joined the BJP after quitting TMC, the ruling party in West Bengal.

Public prosecutor Saswata Gopal Mukherjee opposed the anticipatory bail prayer of Khan stating that there were written complaints of three persons who were allegedly duped, along with statements by two independent witnesses.

He submitted that since the investigation was at a preliminary stage with the complaints having been lodged on January 10, granting anticipatory bail would hamper the probe.

After hearing both the parties, the court granted Khan interim protection from arrest for four weeks and posted the matter for March 19.

The bench also directed him not to enter the jurisdiction of Bankura district other than the purpose of investigation or for appearance in local courts.

Calcutta High Court partially stays WB notification banning motorcycle sale to people without driving licence

 The Calcutta High Court today partially stayed a West Bengal Transport Department notification banning sale of motorcycles to those who do not have a driving licence.

A consortium of motorcycle manufacturers challenged the state transport department’s notification that provided guidelines on sale of two-wheelers to people claiming that it was impractical since a section of people who are owners of motorcycles do not drive these themselves.

Hearing a plea challenging the notification, Justice Harish Tandon stayed the part which prohibited sale of two-wheelers to those who do not have a driving licence.

They also claimed that the ban through the notification on June 28 would hamper the sales of two-wheelers in the state.

Passing the order, Justice Tandon observed that for ensuring road safety, many other stricter steps can be taken using modern technology.

Calcutta High Court, directed government, no slaughter of animals in any open public place

Kolkata: The West Bengal High Court directed Mamta Banarjee, government to insure that there was no slaughter of animals in any open public place.

The High Court  also directed the state authorities to do needful exercise to ensure that the provisions of West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act 1950 were implemented prior to the observance of the festival of Id-Uz-Zoha next year.

Chief Justice of West Bengal High Court  J Bhattacharya expressed surprise that the state did not have the machinery to implement the provisions of an act which was 68 years old.

One could have definitely expected that by this time the state would have its machinery in place to implement the provisions of the said act of 1950, which is a creature of the legislature itself,” the bench, also comprising Justice A Banerjee, said.

The court directed that the state government must mention in its notice that slaughter of animals, including cows and buffalos, in any open public place was strictly prohibited.