Sandeshkhali: SC Stays LS Privileges Committee Notices to West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP


The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the notices issued by the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha Secretariat to the West Bengal chief secretary, DGP, and others over a complaint of “misconduct” filed against them by BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar. Majumdar, who was hospitalized last week after clashes between BJP workers and police personnel, was stopped from going to violence-hit Sandeshkhali in West Bengal.

It is to be noted that the Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika, Director General of Police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar, and others, including the DM and the SP of North 24 Parganas district, were summoned at 10.30 am before the privileges committee of the Lok Sabha.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the state officials, and stayed the notices issued to the state officials and fixed the plea for hearing after four weeks.

The bench prioritized the pleas of West Bengal officials as the first matter on urgent mentioning by the senior officials.

Parliamentary privileges are not accessible to an MP for political activities and can only be invoked when a lawmaker faces obstruction while carrying out duties as an MP during attendance in the House, stated Sibal.

He mentioned that prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) were enforced in the Sandeshkhali area, and the BJP MP and his supporters violated them.

Sibal dismissed the complaint of police atrocities by the MP as “false” and affirmed he can provide videos demonstrating that the political activists of the BJP leader attacked police officials.

Both senior lawyers emphasized that the officials summoned by the Lok Sabha secretariat were absent from the alleged incident site.

The BJP MP filed the complaint on February 15, and notices were promptly issued.

“Privileges are intended to safeguard your work as an MP… Otherwise, there would be a breach of privileges in every case, and nobody can be arrested,” stated Singhvi.

The bench asked whether the notices were issued due to the MP’s injury.

“The video shows that he (the MP) jumps on the bonnet of a police car. His colleagues in the BJP pulled him. He is taken to the hospital by police,” stated one of the lawyers.

Senior lawyer Devasish Bharukha, representing the Lok Sabha Secretariat, opposed the granting of stay by the apex court, citing that this is the first sitting of the privileges committee.

“They are not being accused of anything. This is a routine process. Once an MP sends a notice and the speaker deems there is something to investigate, then notices are issued,” the counsel stated, adding it was a “threshold stage”.

The bench ordered a stay of further proceedings initiated following the office memorandum of the Lok Sabha Secretariat of February 15, 2024.

The MP and others were barred from entering Sandeshkhali, where women have been protesting against alleged atrocities committed by Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh and his aides. Sandeshkhali, situated in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, has been experiencing protests over allegations of sexual abuse of women by a local TMC leader.

Several women in the region have accused the local Trinamool Congress strongman Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of land-grabbing and sexually assaulting them under coercion.

Shajahan has been on the run after a mob, allegedly affiliated with him, attacked Enforcement Directorate officials who had gone to search his premises in connection with a corruption case.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Nunnem Gangte