Kolkata, Jan 11 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday dropped the leader of the opposition in the state assembly from a three-member committee formed on January 7 to monitor compliance of Covid restrictions at Gangasagar Mela in Sagar Island, and reconstituted the panel.
The West Bengal government run by the Trinamool Congress objected to the inclusion of the Leader of the Opposition, the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, in the committee.
The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Kesong Doma Bhutia reconstituted it to a two-member committee comprising former Justice Samapti Chatterjee and the member secretary of the West Bengal Legal Services Authority.
Hearing a PIL seeking to stop this year’s Gangasagar Mela, the high court had earlier formed a committee comprising the leader of the opposition, the state Human Rights Commission chairman and a representative of the state.
Advocate General SN Mookerjee informed the court that the post of the State Human Rights Commission is lying vacant, and inclusion of the Leader of the Opposition will give the panel a political colour.
“To avoid any misapprehension in the mind of the applicants or the State we deemed it proper to reconstitute the Committee with the retired Judge of this High Court as Chairperson to review the situation on the spot at Ganga Sagar Island,” the bench said.
Earlier, while allowing the annual congregation of pilgrims to take place between January 8 and 16, the bench directed that the entire Sagar Island be declared a notified area. The bench on Monday iterated that this be done within 24 hours.
Declaration of the island as a notified area will empower the state to take measures for safeguarding the health and welfare of the pilgrims as it deems necessary.
The bench also instructed that all those visiting the Mela should be doubly vaccinated and test negative in an RTPCR test, conducted 72 hours before reaching the venue. It has also asked for strict regulation of crowds to maintain social distancing. PTI DC JRC NN NN
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