Calcutta HC Grants BJP Leader Suvendu Adhikari Permission to Visit Sandeshkhali

Suvendu Adhikari

In a decision that denied the state government’s appeal, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday permitted West Bengal Assembly’s Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, to visit the tense Sandeshkhali area in North 24 Parganas district.

A division bench of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya declined to intervene in a previous single bench ruling that permitted Adhikari, along with another BJP MLA Shankar Ghosh, to visit Sandeshkhali on Tuesday.

Located approximately 100 km from Kolkata on the edges of the Sunderbans, the riverine Sandeshkhali region has been embroiled in demonstrations sparked by allegations of sexual crimes and land encroachment by some leaders affiliated with the ruling TMC party.

The West Bengal government swiftly appealed the single bench’s decision from Monday, passed by Justice Kausik Chanda, which not only granted permission for Adhikari and Ghosh’s visit but also temporarily stayed the enforcement of Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting gatherings of five or more individuals in Sandeshkhali.

The division bench directed Adhikari to ensure that only security personnel, not party supporters, accompanied them during the visit, emphasizing compliance with the single bench’s directives.

Furthermore, the bench mandated the superintendent of police in Basirhat, along with the state government, to adhere to the single bench’s orders.

Justice Chanda’s prior ruling demanded the state to deploy an adequate number of security personnel to guarantee the visit proceeded without incident. Additionally, he instructed the superintendent of police in Basirhat to submit a report to the court on the number of registered criminal cases related to rape and sexual assault within the jurisdiction of the Sandeshkhali police station from February 1, 2024, onwards.

Adhikari’s legal representative, Billwadal Bhattacharya, informed the division bench that police had obstructed Adhikari and Ghosh from reaching Sandeshkhali, citing the pending appeal challenging the single bench’s order. He requested that Tuesday’s decision allowing their visit be communicated to district authorities.

The state’s Advocate General, Kishore Dutta, assured the division bench that he would promptly inform the district administration of the court’s ruling permitting Adhikari and Ghosh’s visit to Sandeshkhali.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte