Kolkata: A total of 157 lawyers of the Calcutta High Court have shot off a letter to Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, chief justice of that HC Prakash Shrivastava, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, alleging “misconduct” on the part of senior advocate and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Kalyan Banerjee.
The letter — which accused Banerjee of “insulting women lawyers”, giving “undue privilege to some in exchange for unexplainable favours”, and “misusing his political power” — comes at a time when Kalyan Banerjee is facing the ire of his own party’s workers for speaking out against Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata’s nephew, TMC’s national general secretary and second-in-command in the party.
“Sri Bandopadhyay (sic) has tried to get over and above the law as well as people due to his close proximity to the powers of the state. People are forced to pay heed to his demands and illegal dictates as he knows very well how to use his position of power to exploit people,” the lawyers’ two-page letter, accessed by ThePrint, reads.
“There have been numerous instances where certain lady lawyers have been given undue preferences over deserving lawyers in exchange for unexplainable favours. Other female lawyers have also complained of Sri Bandopadhyay’s behaviour and stated that his approach towards them has been dishonourable and depraved,” it adds.
Seeking strict action against the MP, the lawyers also claimed that he had “dishonoured” the highest constitutional authority of the state, the governor, by “making poor statements against him in public, which is unbecoming of a senior Bar member”.
Contacted by ThePrint, Kalyan Banerjee said, “I am not going to pass any comments”.
“I am following instructions from Didi (Mamata Banerjee). All this is arising from this recent episode (with Abhishek Banerjee). Didi is looking into this, I will not say anything more. Didi is watching,” he said.
‘TMC syndicate won’t work in high court’
Anik Das, one of the signatories to the letter, told ThePrint this is the first time in the recent past that such a letter has been written by practising lawyers of the Calcutta High Court against a senior advocate, that too one who is a people’s representative in the lower house of Parliament.
Das further said the timing of the letter has nothing to do with the political rumblings within the TMC against Kalyan Banerjee.
“We have been mulling this letter since a long time but put it on hold due to the Bar election that was held between 22 and 27 November last year. Lawyers are miffed with (Kalyan Banerjee’s) behaviour,” Das alleged.
“He insults women lawyers in a disgraceful manner. He misuses his political power in the high court. In fact, he has already started pressuring the lawyers who have signed the letter through his stooges in the court. We want action against him and won’t let this TMC syndicate vitiate the environment of the high court,” he added.
The Abhishek Banerjee controversy
Kalyan Banerjee’s statement to ThePrint that “all this is arising from this recent episode”, mentioned above, refers to the war of words that broke out last week within the Trinamool after he spoke out against Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
In the wake of rising Covid cases, Abhishek, who is the Diamond Harbour MP, had during a visit to his Lok Sabha constituency on 8 January, said: “All political and religious programs should be put on hold for at least two months. This is my personal opinion.”
His statement, which contradicted what CM Mamata, who also holds the health portfolio, has been saying so far on the issue, was slammed by Kalyan Banerjee.
On 13 January, the advocate had said: “Mamata Banerjee is my only leader. She decides the government’s policies and she decides the party’s ideology, anyone speaking against it directly or indirectly hurts Mamata’s image.”
The statement had drawn flak from his party colleagues, after which the Bengal TMC’s secretary general and disciplinary committee head Partha Chatterjee had warned party leaders to not issue any public statement that could hurt its image.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)