WB Governor challenges police inquiry into molestation allegations, cites constitutional immunity

The Governor described the allegations as “absurd drama”, and said that none would be able to deter him from his “determined efforts to expose corruption and curb violence”.
West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose
West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose (File Photo | PTI)

KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose on Monday wrote to DOPT seeking the removal of the Kolkata police commissioner and deputy commissioner for probing alleged sexual harassment charges against him. The Governor noted that the move was unconstitutional.

Sources in Raj Bhavan said that the Governor is taking legal advice on how he can go ahead with this complaint after a case was lodged against him.

A police complaint was filed against the Governor for molesting a female employee at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. The complaint also accused three Raj Bhavan officials of wrongfully restraining the woman.

The FIR was filed at the Hare Street police station after the woman, a contractual employee at Raj Bhavan, provided her statement to a magistrate regarding the molestation case.

Police had earlier registered a case against three Raj Bhavan employees, including the governor’s officer-on-special duty and recorded their statements on a court order in connection with the accusation made by the woman.

The Governor described the allegations as “absurd drama”, and said that none would be able to deter him from his “determined efforts to expose corruption and curb violence”.

Governor Bose then wrote a letter to the Raj Bhavan staff, where he said, “The reports from the media indicate that the police propose to conduct an inquiry into the incident and that they would be examining the staff of the Raj Bhavan. It is also reported that the investigating team intends to collect the CCTV footage from Raj Bhavan. The question that arises is as to whether the police can conduct an inquiry and collect evidence in view of the immunity enjoyed by the Governor under Art.361(2) and (3) of the Constitution of India.”

According to Article 361 (2) of the Constitution, no criminal proceedings can be instituted or continued against the President, or the Governor of a state, in any court during their term of office.

Bose further wrote, “Since the Governor has been granted constitutional immunity from any criminal proceedings being instituted or continued against him, it logically follows that the police cannot investigate/inquire into the matter in any manner whatsoever. To say that the inquiry/investigation of the police could continue even during the tenure of the Governor though no court can take cognisance of the final report, would be in derogation of the objective and essence of Art.361 of the Constitution of India."

“Thus, in view of the immunity enjoyed by the Governor, the police are constitutionally barred from carrying out any kind of preliminary inquiry or registering a First Information Report," Bose wrote.

The letter also mentioned, “In the circumstances, all staff/ employees including part-time, temporary, DRW (Daily Rated Workers) or those engaged in Raj Bhavan in any manner are hereby directed to ignore any communication from the police in this respect and refrain from giving any statement online, offline, in person, over the phone or in any other manner.” 

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