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Shouldn’t Sheikh Shahjahan be removed from office? Calcutta HC asks

By Shreya Agarwal      08 March, 2024 06:06 AM      0 Comments
Shouldnt Sheikh Shahjahan be removed from office Calcutta HC asks

KOLKATA: Hearing the suo moto motion against former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sheikh Shahjahan in the Sandeshkhali sexual assault and land grabbing cases on Thursday, the Calcutta High Court enquired whether he could continue in his post of Pradhan of Zilla Parishad, while in custody.

The Bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya also enquired if his involvement would interfere with witnesses who wished to depose against him.

"He was an elected representative, should he not be removed from office? We have read in the newspapers that he is suspended from the party, should he not be removed from the post? Until then doing anything will be difficult. He shouldn't be exercising any power,” the Court stated.

Additional Solicitor General Ashoke Chakrabarti agreed and submitted that his position was akin to that of a Cabinet Minister's.

On the other hand, Shahjahan’s counsel told Court that he had not made any such attempts to exert his influence since the attacks on the officials of the Enforcement Directorate on January 5 and also had no way to do so now, being in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

However, the Advocate General for the State argued that his removal as pradhan of the Zilla Parishad would have to be in accordance with the law only - in a democratic manner, as he was an elected representative.

Earlier, the Court had directed for Shahjahan's custody to be handed over to the CBI, and asked why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against the state of West Bengal for holding back the handover despite court orders.

Also Read - Calcutta HC criticizes State for failure to apprehend TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh amid Sandeshkhali violence

The Court heard a host of other submissions by different counsels on the alleged atrocities by Shahjahan and his supporters. 

These included submissions that 80 women from Sandeshkhali had visited Kolkata to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit, and wished to bring information on record in the present case; and that Shahjahan had no right of hearing where investigation was transferred to the CBI. 

Further, Amicus Curiae Jayanta Narayan Chakraborty also submitted that the land which had been grabbed had been changed in character, and therefore was not fit for use in agricultural purposes upon being returned to the original owners.

One of the counsels also sought implementation of the witness protection scheme to allow protection of witnesses by either the Legal Services Authorities, SC/ST Commission or the CBI.

The Court has posted the matter for further hearing on April 4.

Women in Sandeshkhali village, North Parganas area had come forward, alleging that Sheikh Shahjahan, a former TMC leader along with his supporters, had engaged in land-grabbing and sexually assaulted them under duress.

Recently, officials from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were also attacked reportedly at his behest, during a raid on his premises in connection with an ongoing investigation.

Cause Title: In Re: Court on its own motion v State of West Bengal



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