“It is not baseless to apprehend that if the petitioner was permitted to go to Netai, he might not have gone alone or only with his security personnel, as permitted by the court on January 5,” Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya observed while dismissing the contempt application.
Leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari had filed the contempt plea against the DGP and two IPS officers, alleging “wilful disobedience” of the HC’s order by the alleged “contemnors” who had prevented him from reaching Netai village in Jhargram on January 7, 2022 to pay tribute to nine villagers killed during the Left Front regime in 2011.
Justice Bhattacharyya, after examining the video footage placed before the court and the pleadings by both parties, observed: “The reports and documents reveal that there is sufficient material on record to corroborate the legitimate apprehension of clash between warring political parties and consequently breach of peace in the event of the petitioner being let in.”
Adhikari is set to move the apex court challenging the HC order. “I have decided to challenge the dismissal order in the Supreme Court,” the BJP leader tweeted.
The court, based on the ground report, held: “Such developments at the ground level, in the least, create doubt as to whether the resistance by the alleged contemnors to the petitioner’s going to Netai was entirely unjustified.”
Justice Bhattacharyya also noted the prevailing tension on the way to Netai that day to explain from where the “doubt” arose. “It is brought out from the pleadings that a huge number of people had converged in the area at the relevant time, belonging mostly to the Trinamool Congress and the BJP. Several such supporters, according to alleged contemnors, had begun mobilizing… at the approach roads of Netai village,” the court noted.
On a prayer by Adhikari, Justice Bhattacharyya had on January 5 said the petitioner and his security personnel had the right as citizens of India to visit not only the village but any other place in India, subject to legal restrictions, without violating any provision of law.
The same court, after examining the footage, held: “It is anybody’s guess that there might have been a serious law and order breach if the petitioner, along with his supporters, had approached the said village… which might have inflamed a fallout more severe than could be contained by law enforcement personnel.”
Advocate general S N Mookherjee had submitted that there was no requirement of getting any permission from the superintendent of police or any other authority to visit any part of the state without violating the provisions of law.