Calcutta, Dec. 7: A middle-aged man waving a bunch of papers entered the courtroom of Calcutta High Court's acting chief justice as he was hearing a contempt application against Mamata Banerjee today and shouted: "What the chief minister said about the judiciary is absolutely correct."
The man, later identified as Indrajit Biswas of Supur village near Bolpur town, added: "Money is paid to buy justice. I have made this complaint in my letters to the President and (the) Prime Minster. If the court has failed to issue a contempt rule against me for lodging written complaints, why will Mamata Banerjee be prosecuted for saying this verbally?"
Biswas spoke in English.
Around 12.15pm, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Pratap Roy and Justice Subal Vaidya started hearing the application moved by advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya demanding a suo motu contempt proceeding against the chief minister for allegedly making adverse comments on the judiciary.
Immediately after Justice Roy announced that he wanted more time to study the case and fixed the next hearing for December 14, Biswas, who runs an electronic goods shop in Bolpur town, entered the room and started shouting.
The judges were initially taken aback. Government pleader Ashok Banerjee shouted out: "Arrest the man. Where are the policemen?"
Another lawyer who was present in the room, Rabishankar Chatterjee, countered Ashok Banerjee. "Why will he be arrested? Allow him to speak. We want to hear him. We want to know why he hates the judiciary."
Three policemen took Biswas out of the room. But Ashok Banerjee ran after the cops and told them to bring Biswas back. "The judge will decide his fate," Ashok Banerjee told the police.
The police took Biswas back to Justice Roy.
Speaking in Bengali, Justice Roy asked him: "Are you ashamed of what you said about the judiciary?"
Biswas replied in Bengali: "Not at all. I do not think what I said was wrong. I had a bitter experience with judges. I have lost cases in this court and the Supreme Court because of dishonesty of the judges."
Justice Roy: "Do you want to apologise for your act?"
Biswas: "No. What the chief minister has said is right. I have said these things in writing. So the court should take steps against me first."
Justice Roy: "If this court sends you to jail?"
Biswas: "I am not afraid. I am ready to go to jail."
Justice Roy: "Can you express your grievance in this manner? Don't you think that you have created a problem during the hearing of an important matter. Are you not apologetic? If a man disturbs you during your meal, won't you feel that the man should be apologetic for his act?"
Biswas: "Then I must say that the manner in which I expressed myself was bad. I apologise."
Justice Roy asked the police to release Biswas.
Biswas told journalists outside the courtroom that he had applied for an LPG dealership in Birbhum's Sainthia from an oil company and fulfilled all requirements. "But the dealership was given to a rich trader of Ilambazar. He had suppressed the truth to get the dealership. He had not informed the oil company that he had other means of income," Biswas said.
He said that even though he had produced several documents in support of his complaint, both Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court had dismissed his case.
Refusing to reply to furtherquestions, Biswas left the court complex, saying he had some urgent work at Canning Street.
Prior to the incident, the application moved by Bhattacharyya came up for hearing before the division bench. Justice Roy said: "I will have to study the matter further. I have to see whether this court can deliver judgment in the case, which was been heard by another division bench."
Bhattacharyya said: "Virtually, the division bench of Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta had take cognisance of the matter but could not deliver its judgment. So there is no harm in this court delivering the judgment."
Justice Roy replied: "This is not the first time that this type of comments (those attributed to Mamata) have been made on the judiciary.
"A former chief justice of the Supreme Court had criticised the judiciary a day after his retirement. So did veteran politician Somnath Chatterjee. Even Justice Soumitra Sen had criticised the judiciary during his impeachment in Parliament."
Justice Roy added: "In our time, people used to say that education is a purchasable thing. Actually, a rich man can afford three private tutors for his son. A poor man cannot do so. The meaning of what the chief minister had said means justice can be bought. If a person appoints Bikash Bhattacharyya instead of a junior lawyer, he will certainly have a better chance in his/her case. So let the court study the matter more."