6 March 2023 10:14 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court last week sought an explanation from the Advocate General of the state as to whether an alleged statement of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, made in the backdrop of the Vande Bharat Train Stone Pelting incident of January 2023, falls under the ambit of Section 153A IPC for promoting enmity between the residents of Bengal and Bihar. It may be noted that Section 153A...
The Calcutta High Court last week sought an explanation from the Advocate General of the state as to whether an alleged statement of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, made in the backdrop of the Vande Bharat Train Stone Pelting incident of January 2023, falls under the ambit of Section 153A IPC for promoting enmity between the residents of Bengal and Bihar.
It may be noted that Section 153A IPC deals with the offence of Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence.
It may further be noted that the statement in question was allegedly made by CM in a public meeting wherein she had claimed that the said incident (stone pelting) had not happened in the state of Bengal, and rather, it happened in the state of Bihar. Allegedly, in her statement, she had also condemned the attempt to defame West Bengal.
The reply has been sought from the Advocate General for the state by the bench of Justice Bibek Chaudhuri which was essentially dealing with a plea moved by TV Today Network seeking quashing of a case registered against and its journalist for certain Twitter posts made by it concerning the incidents of stone pelting and breaking and smashing portion of the window pane of Vande Bharat Express on 2nd January, 2023 and 3rd January, 2023.
Having perused the content of the Twitter posts made by TV Today's Deputy Editor Kundu, the Court, at the outset noted that prima facie while no offence under Section 153A IPC was made out against the TV Today Network and its Deputy Editor
However, the Court took note of the alleged statement of CM Banerjee and contemplated as to whether the same contains ingredient of promoting enmity as contemplated in Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.
"...this Court wants to know as to whether the post made in the Twitter handle of the Chief Minister of West Bengal also consists of prima facie ingredient of promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony as contemplated in Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. In the instant case, it is between the residents of Bengal and Bihar. If that be so, such post is also liable to be looked into as an offence. On this issue, this Court likes to hear the learned Advocate General of the State," the Court remarked.
Consequently, the Court ordered that a copy of the order be served to the Advocate General and posted the matter for hearing on March 10.
Significantly, the Court directed the police authorities to not take action against TV Today and its Deputy Editor Kundu. After hearing the AG, the Court added, an order regarding the admission of the plea filed by the TV would be passed.
For context, the literal translation of CM Banerjee's statement (originally in the Bengali language) reads thus:
"This has not happened in Bengal. This has happened in Bihar. People in Bihar might be aggrieved. Even if people in Bihar have committed such an incident you cannot insult them. I feel that they also have the right to receive, just because BJP is not there that does not mean that they should not receive. And what is Vande Bharat?.. An old train has been colored and refurbished except the engine. So many old trains from here have been withdrawn. During my tenure, I would give at least 100 trains in a year. But in the last 11 year, not one new train has been given except this one. The people who insult Bengal, I condemn them and we will make arrangements to tackle fake news."
Advocates Rajdeep Mazumder, Rudrajit Sarkar, A. Basu, Sayan Mukherjee, Tamaghna Saha and Radhika Agarwal appeared for the petitioners.
[With inputs from Aaratrika Bhaumik]