KOLKATA: The acrimony between the BJP-led government at the Centre and the TMC regime in West Bengal hit another low on Thursday with the state government alleging that it was kept in the dark about the inauguration of the long-awaited Jalpaiguri circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday nor invited to it.
Neither Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee nor the judges of the Calcutta High Court were invited to the programme by the Centre, state Law Minister Malay Ghatak said.
"The prime minister should be ashamed for taking to such petty politics," he said, adding that the Centre's move to inaugurate the circuit bench was "politically motivated".
Besides, it was illegal to keep the state government in the dark about the inauguration programme, Ghatak said.
"We (the state government) have not received any invitation from the Centre for the inauguration of the circuit bench tomorrow by the prime minister. This is politically motivated. The BJP government must understand that the judiciary is different from politics," he told reporters here.
The relations between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre and the Trinamool Congress government in the state are fraught with tension with a strident Banerjee calling for Modi's ouster from power in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and drumming up support from major opposition parties.
"If the inauguration happens tomorrow, it will prove how shameless Modi is. We bore all the costs for setting up the circuit bench and now they (the Centre) are trying to take the credit for it. The people of north Bengal know that the circuit bench was set up by the TMC government," Ghatak said.
The project cost had already crossed Rs 350 crore and the state had spent Rs 40 crore for the infrastructure, he added.
According to state secretariat sources, Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharyya sent a letter to the central law and judicial department on Thursday, protesting the move.
Asked whether the TMC would hold any demonstration on the issue, Ghatak said a decision in this regard would be taken by the party high command.
The state government had earlier set September 17, 2018 for the inauguration of the circuit bench.
The Union cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to inaugurate the circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court in Jalpaiguri district.
Jalpaiguri adjoins Darjeeling district, whose BJP MP S S Ahluwalia had earned the ire of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha during the 104-day-long agitation in the hills in 2017 as he did not visit the region then.
The proposed circuit bench will have jurisdiction over the north Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri.
The decision to set up the circuit bench was taken in a full-court meeting of the Calcutta High Court in 1988 and was approved by the Union cabinet in June, 2006.
A team of judges had visited the proposed site in Jalpaiguri in August last year to assess the progress in the setting up of the infrastructure.
A circuit bench is for territories which are far-flung but do not have too many matters to justify a full-fledged permanent bench.