The Calcutta High Court on Thursday rejected the BJP’s petition to allow the party to hold rath yatras in West Bengal, scheduled to be flagged off by BJP national president Amit Shah from Cooch Behar on Friday.
Deferring the yatras till January 9 when the court will hear the matter again, the single bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty Thursday observed that reports need to be sought from all Superintendents of Police in the state as the proposed yatras will cover all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal.
BJP vs Trinamool: At the court’s door, again
This is not the first time that the BJP has sought intervention from the court to organise its party's activities in West Bengal. In 2014, it moved Calcutta High Court to seek permission to hold Amit Shah’s public meeting at a venue where the Trinamool Congress organises its annual Marty's Day rally. In January this year, it again moved Calcutta High Court seeking permission for its motorbike rally across the state.
“The court felt that the BJP moved the court pretty late on December 3 and in the current short notice it will be difficult for the state government to take adequate law and order measures. It is a big rally which will be held across the state. Therefore, it has advised all district BJP presidents to sit with respective SPs to chalk out detailed plans. The court also took note of the police and IB reports submitted before the order was passed,” said advocate Arka Kumar Nag, who appeared for the state government.
State advocate general Kishore Dutta told the court that the Cooch Behar SP refused permission for the BJP president-led rath yatra on Friday and the yatra might cause communal tension. The court directed SPs of all districts to file a report by December 21 on organising the yatra after hearing all district presidents of the BJP.
The party then approached Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta, requesting him to constitute a special bench to hear the BJP’s plea for permission to hold the yatra in Cooch Behar Friday. However, the Chief Justice asked the party to move the appeal before the court on Friday at 10.30 am.
The BJP moved the division bench of the Chief Justice, challenging the single bench order. The division bench will hear the matter Friday. “We have already moved the division bench which will hear our petition tomorrow at 10.30 am… there is no democracy in Bengal and that’s why permissions are being denied to us,” said state BJP vice-president Joy Prakash Majumdar.
Meanwhile, the BJP said the party will continue with their scheduled programmes till they get a verdict from the division bench. “We have already made all preparations for the rally… The rath yatra will begin tomorrow… we are awaiting its (court) verdict. Till then, all our activities will continue as scheduled,” said West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh after holding a meeting with party leaders, including BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Reminded that taking out the rally before a verdict will amount to contempt of court, Ghosh said, “We will definitely hold the public meeting which will be addressed by Amit Shah. If court allows then we will take out the rally. If not then we will take a call after the verdict.” Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said if needed the party will move the Supreme Court.
The TMC said law will take its own course if BJP leaders violate the court order. “Dilip Ghosh is not above the law. If they violate the court order then law will take its own course. I am sure the district administration will take necessary steps to ensure that the court order is honoured,” said state North Bengal Development minister and TMC leader Rabindranath Ghosh.
On December 3, the state BJP had moved the High Court to ensure cooperation from the administration during the rath yatras after receiving no response from the state administration.