Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s “judgment for sale” comment has stirred a hornet’s nest. Within 48 hours, petitions for a contempt case reached both the Calcutta high court and the Supreme Court.
The high court issued notices to editors of two newspapers and two Bengali television news channels, asking them to file affidavits on the authenticity of their reports on her speech. On September 13, depending on the evidence provided by the media, the judges would decide if contempt proceedings will be initiated against the chief minister.
If Banerjee claims the media had misinterpreted her, the court may dismiss the case, said lawyer and Congress leader Arunabha Ghosh. If the court decides otherwise, she may be detained for a few minutes or even a few months.
In Delhi, meanwhile, J&K Panthers' Party leader and senior advocate Bhim Singh filed a petition seeking contempt proceedings against Banerjee in the Supreme Court. Her comments can “undermine” the people’s confidence in judiciary as “it tends to lower the integrity, reputation and authority” of the judicial system, he contended.
On August 14, Banerjee had criticised the judiciary, alleging there were instances when judgments were bought for money.
“At times, favourable verdicts are given in return for money,” she had said in the assembly. “I am not afraid of money and muscle power. I am prepared to face the consequences if there is any suit against me, or if I am arrested for my comments.”
On Thursday, too, Banerjee remained belligerent.
“Whatever I said, I will repeat a hundred times, a thousand times,” she told the media at the Writers’ Buildings. “I am happy that a case has been filed against me. I spoke about electoral reforms, about corruption. Is it a crime to talk about pending court cases?”