West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that court judgments could be bought for money.
Speaking at the state Assembly on Tuesday, Didi said that she was ready to go to jail but the truth had to be told. “Nowadays in many cases, favourable verdicts are given in lieu of money. These days, judgments are purchased. There is corruption among a section of the judiciary. I know there can be a defamation suit against me for saying this. But this must be said and I am ready to go to jail for saying so,” said Mamata.
Didi’s declaration stirred a hornet’s nest with judges and lawyers urging her to reveal exact cases where money had influenced decisions.
“She can’t accuse the judiciary; as the Chief Minister, she must say which decision was bought with money… When the judgment is in her favour, it’s a victory of justice. But the judiciary is corrupt when decisions go against her like in the Singur case,” said Arunava Ghosh, a Calcutta High Court advocate.
Even various political parties reacted to Mamata’s affirmation. “One needs to be extremely cautious while commenting on issues of transparency in the judiciary, conduct of the judges and judgments,” said West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Om Prakash Mishra.
Mamata also slammed the various judicial commissions that had been set up to look into various cases.
“There have been so many judicial commissions set up but where is the result? So much money is spent on these commissions but the only thing they do is call higher officials for questioning… How is the executive expected to work,” she asked.
Interestingly, Didi’s statement came a day after the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) directed the state government to compensate Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta for being harassed by the police.
Ambikesh and Sengupta had been arrested on April 12 and kept in police lock-up overnight for circulating an anti-Mamata cartoon. Didi herself had justified the professor’s arrest saying that conspiracies were hatched against her.
The WBHRC’s decision came as a huge embarrassment to the 14-month-old government.
“She is the only CM who has set up so many commissions. The state human rights commission was already there and she also directed that every district was to have human rights commissions as well…So I can’t understand the reason behind her anger. I would be happy if the government accepts the rights panel’s decision. Otherwise, they’ll end up spending `10 lakh to `1 crore instead of paying `50,000 each (to Mahapatra and Sengupta),” said CPM politburo member and Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, adding that in other states, votes and even politicians could be purchased for money.
The TMC chief urged that black money be brought back to fund elections.