After several reversals in court, the cartoon row verdict appeared the proverbial last straw. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee exploded at the most public of forums, declaring that courts were corrupt and judgments were often bought with money.
The state human rights commission, which penalised the government on Monday for the toon row, was not spared either.
“There are many incidents in which judgments are bought with money,” Banerjee said on Tuesday at a seminar held on occasion of the platinum jubilee of the state assembly.
Without naming the rights commission, she said, “I installed an individual in a seat of honour. But he has no idea of his powers. He is acting as if he is the Prime Minister or the President.”
Sounding more like an opposition leader than the chief minister, she added, “I am not afraid of money and muscle power. I am prepared if there is any suo motu cognizance against me, or if I am arrested for my comments.”
The government has been facing raps in court for a while, the most notable one being the striking down of the Singur Act as ‘unconstitutional’.
Not just the opposition, but ally Congress struck back, alleging that the chief minister blamed courts only when the verdicts were against her.
“Justice Pinaki Ghosh gave a judgment in favour of Banerjee during the Nandigram agitation. Now that he has termed the Singur act ‘unconstitutional’, she is alleging he got favours from the opposition,” said lawyer and Congress leader Arunava Ghosh. “When decisions go against her the judiciary is corrupt.”
“It is not proper to target the judiciary alone. Corruption is a bigger issue,” said leader of opposition Suryakanta Mishra.
“The chief minister should abide by the constitution and not make baseless allegations. I fully support Markandey Katju's statement in which he said that Banerjee is not fit to be a leader in democracy,” said lawyer Subroto Mukherjee who is close to the CPM.