North East

Calcutta high Court grants temporary halt to investigation against BJP lawmakers in national anthem disrespect case

The BJP legislators were accused by the ruling Trinamool Congress of insulting the National Anthem on November 29 on the Assembly premises. The interim stay on the probe is till January 17.

Kolkata: A single-judge Bench of the Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered an interim stay on investigation by Kolkata Police in the case related to alleged insult to the National Anthem by BJP legislators.

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The BJP legislators were accused by the ruling Trinamool Congress of insulting the National Anthem on November 29 on the Assembly premises. The interim stay on the probe is till January 17.

This is the second time that the state government and the Kolkata Police have had to face embarrassment in the matter in one week, as on Monday, the same Bench of Justice Jay Sengupta had granted protection against any coercive action, including arrest, to BJP legislators against whom Kolkata Police registered an FIR on charges of insulting the National Anthem.

On Thursday, Justice Sengupta ordered the interim stay after checking the November 29 video footage of the incident in the state Assembly.

The main accusation against them is that they were shouting slogans of “thieves, thieves” when the Trinamool Congress legislators were singing the National Anthem at a programme at the base of the statue of BR Ambedkar.

However, on Thursday, after checking the video footage Justice Sengupta observed that since in the footage only the gathering of the ruling party MLAs could be seen, it was not possible to deduce that an insult of the National Anthem had taken place.

When the state government counsel claimed that the footage of the Opposition MLAs was there in other CCTV videos, Justice Sengupta said that if the gathering of the ruling and Opposition MLAs could not be seen in the same footage, then how could it be ascertained that the BJP legislators could hear the National Anthem being sung?

Justice Sengupta also observed that it seems that the National Anthem is being used as a political weapon. “If someone starts singing the National Anthem suddenly at a place, will an elderly patient jump out of the sick bed and stand up? It has to be seen whether the National Anthem was sung to pay respect to it or was it used to frame the opponent,” Justice Sengupta observed.

The incident occurred on November 29 when Trinamool Congress legislators sporting black shirts and led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were protesting near the statue of BR Ambedkar within the Assembly premises.

Towards the end of the protest, a group of BJP MLAs led by the Leader of Opposition (LoP) arrived at the Assembly premises. The legislators, including the LoP, were seen shouting “thieves”, “thieves” while pointing at the protesting legislators.

Later the Chief Minister complained to the Speaker that the BJP legislators were raising derogatory slogans while the ruling party MLAs were singing the National Anthem, deeming it an insult.

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