Calcutta High Court orders Mamata govt to pull down all anti-CAA ads

Mamata Banerjee
In a setback to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the Calcutta High Court passed an interim order on Monday directing the state government to remove all advertisements it posted to battle the debated Act and restrained it from issuing any such commercials further.

Soumen Sarkar, a lawyer by profession, had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the court over the advertisements published by the state government which allegedly highlights its opposition to CAA. Another five such PILs were filed consecutively. The chief minister, also party supremo of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), has been opposing CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) tooth and nail.

Nilanjan Bhattacharya, who represented the petitioner in the Calcutta High Court, said, “The court has directed the state government to remove all the advertisements from outdoor and electronic media, government portals as well as from social media and the state is bound to do it”.

He said political parties can have their own agenda and may oppose any Bill or Act in a democratic way but constitutionally, a state government is bound to execute Acts which have been passed by the Centre and falls in the Union List.

“It is unfair for a party to use the state machinery as public resources to propagate a party agenda”, Bhattacharya said.

The Calcutta High Court will hear the case further on January 9, 2020.

Previously, the state’s governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar had advised Banerjee to take down these alleged advertisements in question.

The development came in after the state government issued advertisements where Banerjee, sitting together with state officials, were seen saying that CAA and NRC will not be implemented in the state.

The petitioners have taken an offence on this stand alleging how the state government can issue such statements.

Tagging Banerjee in the social media, union minister Babul Supriyo said, “If only Mamata Banerjee had taken advise from the few educated MPs & MLAs she has in her party about she (a chief minister) not having any authority, as per our constitution, to block an Act that’s in the Central List & anyone other than Didi (Mamata Banerjee) would know that Citizenship is Centre’s prerogative”.

Banerjee and her party has been vehemently protesting CAA by organising rallies and Banerjee had even challenged the Centre to hold a referendum monitored by the United Nations (UN) or the National Human Rights Commission. Later Banerjee retracted from her earlier statement commenting that suggestions were only made to conduct an opinion poll monitored by impartial experts and the process could be observed by the UN.

The court had also ordered resumption of internet services which otherwise were clipped to contain alleged spread of misinformation in areas struck with violence around CAA.

Meanwhile, the BJP took out a massive rally in Kolkata which was led by party’s working president J.P. Nadda who justified the reasons why the Centre passed CAA and why it is beneficial for the country.

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