HC disallows Singur gag
By bbsbuzz - Wed Jul 20, 10:54 am
Calcutta, July 19: Calcutta High Court today turned down a state plea to gag the media from reporting the day’s events in the Singur case, which witnessed an unexpected turn when the Tata Motors counsel sought to withdraw himself over a government lawyer’s “derogatory” remarks outside the court.
Tata counsel Samaraditya Pal said he felt “insulted” by certain media statements by Trinamul MP Kalyan Bandopadhyay ‘ one of the lawyers representing the government in the case ‘ but was persuaded by the court to stay on.
Pal alleged that Bandopadhyay had told a TV channel that the Tata counsel was “misusing his status” ‘ a comment perceived as a personal dig ‘ and taking up too much time during his submissions.
Justice Saumitra Pal, who confessed himself “embarrassed” by the situation, eventually sorted things out between barrister Pal and state advocate-general Anindya Mitra, but another twist was waiting.
Mitra demanded that the judge restrain the media from publishing today’s court developments, else “there will be a possibility of allegations and counter-allegations and the matter will drag on”.
Barrister Pal immediately objected, saying: “The court cannot impose a ban on reporters. People have the right to know what is happening in the courtroom.”
Justice Pal agreed, saying: “I have confidence in the media. They will make no mistake. This court cannot restrain the media from publishing or airing something that has happened in an open courtroom.”
Earlier, soon after hearing started at 10.30am, barrister Pal raised the issue of the purported remarks by Bandopadhyay, who did not come to court today.
“Bandopadhyay’s statement was derogatory. I am feeling very insulted and have decided to withdraw from the case. Bandopadhyay always criticises me and makes adverse comments about me, my client and also against this court. This court has failed to control him,” he said.
Justice Pal said: “I’m feeling very embarrassed. I’m requesting you to continue with the case. I shall see to it that no such incident occurs in the future.”
Barrister Pal said he was not in a position to make submissions today and asked for time to decide whether he would continue tomorrow. The court gave him till 1pm and adjourned proceedings till then.
At 1pm, barrister Pal returned to the court and said: “Lawyers have two duties. The first is to assist the court and the second, to serve their clients. The other side (the government’s lawyers) are preventing me in both my duties. This court has requested me to continue, and I will continue my submissions provided the court assures me that I will not be prevented from discharging my duties.”
Justice Pal then called barrister Pal and Mitra near him and spoke to them in a low voice. A while later, both lawyers returned to their seats looking satisfied.
But state government pleader Ashok Banerjee then rose to make a point of his own. He said barrister Pal should not generalise about the “other side” preventing him from performing his duties.
“He should name the person. We are all lawyers from the ‘other side’. I never restrained him. We have good relations. Both of us are fond of music. A person who loves music cannot misbehave,” Banerjee said.
The judge stopped Banerjee and told him: “Pal never mentioned your name; why are you implicating yourself?”
Sometime later, Banerjee was heard telling barrister Pal: “Ebar ektu hashun, ekhono mukh gomra kore achhen keno (please smile now, why are you still glum)?”
Advocate-general Mitra, though, continued to demand a gag on the media. The judge again declined, saying: “Listen to what your government pleader is saying… the incident had a happy ending; the media can report it.”
Barrister Pal will resume his submissions at 10.30am tomorrow.