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Both TMC, BJP claim credit for circuit bench of Calcutta HC in Jalpaiguri

Citing the distance between Kolkata and north Bengal districts (about 600 km), the Jalpaiguri Bar Association began demanding the circuit bench 56 years ago, in 1963.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 14, 2019 09:41 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
BJP,Trinamool Congress,Bijoy Chandra Barman
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the inauguration of the bench had turned into a political controversy when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it on February 8.(HT FILE PHOTO)

A circuit bench of a high court has become a major element in the poll campaign of both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the north Bengal constituency of Jalpaiguri that goes to polls on April 18.

“By funding the infrastructure of the circuit bench, the state government has proved that it always tries to solve the problems of the common man. The bench will go a long way to mitigate the problems of the people,” TMC candidate Bijoy Chandra Barman said.

Kamal Krishna Banerjee, president of the Jalpaiguri Bar Association pointed out that the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar are covered by the circuit bench and the rest of the north Bengal districts such as North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda would gradually come under its purview.

Citing the distance between Kolkata and north Bengal districts (about 600 km), the Jalpaiguri Bar Association began demanding the circuit bench 56 years ago, in 1963.

Jalpaiguri resident and former professor of history at the North Bengal University, Ananda Gopal Ghosh, described the circuit bench as a “landmark”.

“The setting up of the circuit bench is a historic achievement and the people will vote for us for it. We are highlighting it to everyone we are meeting,” said Dipen Pramanik, joint convener of BJP’s North Bengal unit.

BJP candidate Jayanta Roy, who is a doctor, is reminding the people that the bench has brought justice closer to their homes. He is highlighting the issue with as much emphasis as the promise of good governance by Narendra Modi. Pramanik pointed out that the inauguration was done by the Prime Minister on February 8. “Modi accelerated the process of obtaining the President of India’s nod for the functioning of the bench,” the BJP leader said.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the inauguration of the bench had turned into a political controversy when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it on February 8.

After the PM’s programme, state law minister Malay Ghatak had pointed out that the state government had given the land and the entire amount of Rs 0.4 billion crore for setting up the infrastructure for it. Ghatak had also said that the Mamata Banerjee administration acquired 40 acres for the permanent bench and was funding the project that would cost Rs 3.54 billion.

“Despite the inauguration on February 8, the bench started functioning from March 11 after the acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court declared it functional in the presence of chief minister Mamata Banerjee on March 9,” said Bijoy Chandra Barman.

In 2002, the Union cabinet had taken the decision to set up the bench in Jalpaiguri and a bench of Madras High Court in Madurai. Though the Madurai bench started functioning in 2004, the one in Jalpaiguri ran into trouble.

TMC is also claiming credit for the Jalpaiguri campus of North Bengal University that started functioning from the academic year of 2012-13. Refuting the claim, Dipen Pramanik said, “It’s a cruel joke that the ruling party is claiming credit for a campus where only four subjects -- Sanskrit, English, Bengali and Geography -- are taught. For all other subjects, students have to travel to Siliguri, nearly 50 km away.”

The state government has also announced that it will set up a medical college in Jalpaiguri.

There are about 1.73 million voters in this constituency. In 2014, it was won by the TMC by a margin of 69,606 votes.

First Published: Apr 14, 2019 09:41 IST