Indictment of retired Supreme Court judge justice AK Ganguly by a Supreme Court panel following complaint of sexual harassment by a woman law intern couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the receiving end of some of Ganguly’s recent actions as the chairman of the state’s human rights commission.
Ganguly invited the ire of Mamata Banerjee in August 2012 when the commission took suo motu cognisance of an incident of arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra for circulating a cartoon lampooning Mamata on Facebook.
Mamata ignored the commission’s recommendation of a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the state government to be paid to the professor and his neighbour for their harassment by Trinamool supporters and subsequent arrest.
Even as Mamata Banerjee chose to ignore the order, the commission in the same month ordered a probe into the arrest of a farmer, Shiladitya Chowdhury, after being branded a Maoist by Mamata in a public meeting in West Midnapore after he asked the chief minister about fertiliser prices and plight of farmers.
Expectedly, Mamata Banerjee also chose to ignore the directive given in July this year, this time a fine of Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the farmer.
Now that commission chairman Ganguly has been indicted by the Supreme Court panel, West Bengal government has demanded his resignation with state law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya even questioning the purpose of having such a body and its activist role.
Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee not only said Ganguly should step down as the West Bengal Human Rights Commission chair but also urged police to initiate action against him. “The committee in clear terms indicted Ganguly and after having found guilty of such heinous act, he should immediately resign. I would also urge police to immediately initiate action him,” he said.
“Two things are required to be done: the Delhi Police should start criminal case against him immediately, and secondly Justice Ganguly must step down immediately. It’s a stigma on him,’ he added.
Another TMC lawmaker Saugata Roy said that Ganguly’s act has brought down the prestige of the Supreme Court. “I have seen the report by the panel set up by the Supreme Court. The panel report establishes that the complaint made by the intern against Justice Ganguly was prima facie correct,” he said.
Roy further said that the top court panel has taken refuge behind technicalities to say that no action was called for since Justice Ganguly has already demitted office. “The panel has taken refuge behind technicalities to say no action was called for as Ganguly has already demitted office after retirement. I think the panel should have recommended some action and it was also not correct on part of the panel in naming the girl,” Roy said.
“Justice Ganguly should forthwith resign from his post as chairman of the WBHRC to save his own face and save the prestige of the high office which he holds,” he said. “I think the panel should have recommended some action. I think the panel was also not correct in naming the girl,” he added.
Replying to a question, Roy, a former union minister, said, “The problem is that since the so-called offence is committed in Delhi, Kolkata Police cannot do anything in the matter and only Delhi Police can take action. However, if a PIL is filed in the Delhi High Court, it can take action.”
“I do not think it is an embarrassment for the state government as everybody knows Justice Ganguly was critical of the state government,” he said.
— With agency inputs