Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday inaugurated the Jalpaiguri circuit bench of Calcutta High Court but West Bengal Chief Minister took objection to it claiming that her government as well as the court were kept in the dark.
“Land is ours, circuit bench is of the high court. Neither the groom nor the bride is there but the band wala has come,” Banerjee said about the inauguration of the circuit bench, accusing Modi of hijacking it.
A Calcutta High Court official said there was no communication from the Centre or the state government regarding the inauguration of the bench.
Pressing a button, Modi unveiled the plaque of the circuit bench from a stage near his public meeting ground at Churabhandar in Jalpaiguri district and said a long-term demand of the people of north Bengal has been met and they won’t have to travel to Kolkata any more for litigations.
A circuit bench is for territories which are far-flung but do not have too many matters to justify a full-fledged permanent bench.
Modi said that despite the sanction given by the union cabinet 13 to 14 years ago, “the insensitive government in the state has not been able to start the circuit bench for so long”.
Denying the charge, Banerjee claimed she and the then Calcutta High Court chief justice had planned to inaugurate the circuit bench four months ago but the Centre did not issue any notification.
But now the announcement was suddenly made to facilitate the inauguration by Modi to win some “political brownie points”, she alleged.
“Who has given land for the new building and funds for the circuit bench? Rs 300 crore has been spent by us (West Bengal government), the land was given by us,” Banerjee said.
“Was anyone from the high court present? Neither the state nor the high court was informed … Modi babu did not inform the high court or the state. He inaugurated it only because Lok Sabha elections are approaching. It is a matter of great shame,” she said.
The inauguration ceremony was not attended by the Acting Chief Justice or any other judge of the high court.
A high court official said that there was no question of any of its judges attending the inauguration ceremony since there was no communication from the Centre or the state government.
“I am writing to the Supreme Court about it,” the official said.
Inaugurating the bench, the prime minister said it will provide speedy justice to the people of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar in north Bengal.
Residents of these four districts will now have to
travel less than 100 km instead of 600 km, he said.
The circuit bench will function from a refurbished zilla parishad bungalow till a new building is constructed for it.
Modi also laid the foundation stone for the four-laning of the Falakata-Salsalabari section of National Highway-31 D.
The 41.7 km-long section of National Highway falls in Jalpaiguri district and will be constructed at a cost of about Rs 1938 crore, he said.
The project will reduce the distance from Salsalabari and Alipurduar to Siliguri by nearly 50 km and will boost tourism in the region, he said.
The four-laning of the national highway will facilitate better movement of tea and other agricultural produce from the region to markets.