Mamata Banerjee

National News

Is extending the jurisdiction of BSF against the spirit of federalism?

Jag Mohan Thaken Chandigarh The central Home Ministry on October 11, 2021, issued notification regarding the amendment in BSF Act to authorize the Border Security Force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within an extended area of 50 km stretch, instead of the previous 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This step of BJP led central government is being opposed tooth and nail by the opposition parties in Punjab and West Bengal and may create a conflict between the union government and these states. The leaders of these two states state these new orders as an attempt to interfere with the federal structure of the country and think that these orders would not only demoralize the state police force but also give rise to unnecessary confrontation with BSF. Allegation of Punjab Leaders Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu stated this step as an encroachment on constitutional rights of the states and disregarding the democratic powers of the people and alleged that the Centre is weakening the country’s federal structure, by creating “a State within a State”. In his tweets on October 25, Sidhu said, “Without obtaining consent of the state government, the notification amounts to encroachment on constitutional rights of the states, disregarding the democratic powers of the people of Punjab vested in the state legislature and state executive.” Sidhu also alleged, “Centre is weakening country’s federal structure, by creating“a State within a State” BSF means Border Security Force, What is definition of border ? 50 Kms ?? Public order, which connotes public peace & safety is primarily the responsibility of State Govt.” Deputy Chief Minister Punjab Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who holds the portfolio of Home, highlighting about the ramifications of this unilateral decision of Central Government in an all-party meeting, said, “The notification which has been thrusted upon the state would not only demoralize our police force but also give rise to unnecessary confrontation with BSF. The law and order is the state subject and Centre has not even bothered to consult us on this sensitive issue which amounts to encroachment…

Justice Markandey Katju

The Narada Sting Case: criticism of the CBI action holds no water, says Justice Katju

The Narada Sting Case By Justice Markandey Katju Several important politicians of the Trinamul Congress Party ( TMC ), which has once again won the West Bengal state assembly elections and formed the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, have recently been arrested in the Narada sting case by the Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI ). This case arose out of a sting operation conducted by journalist Mathew Samuel who caught on video tape several West Bengal politicians taking bribes. The CBI has arrested 4 TMC politicians, Farhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Soven Chatterjee, and Subrata Mukherjee who were among those seen taking bribes on the video tape.. However, criticism is being levied by some people against the CBI for not also chargesheeting and arresting Mukul Roy and Shubhendu Adhikari, who were also alleged to be on the video tapes taking bribes ( Mukul Roy is not alleged to be taking the bribe of Rs 15 lacs directly himself, but through an intermediary ). It is alleged that this is discriminatory behaviour on the part of the CBI, since these two persons, who were earlier in the TMC, later joined the BJP which is ruling in the Centre, and which controls the CBI. On getting to know of these arrests, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went to the office of the CBI in Kolkata, sat on dharna, and demanded release of these TMC politicians, or else said she too should be arrested ‘Release them or arrest me’ — Mamata tells CBI as ministers, MLA are arrested in Narada case TMC party workers blocked roads, burnt tyres, and created a ruckus outside the CBI office in Kolkata No doubt Mukul Roy and Shubhendu Adhikari should also have been charge sheeted and arrested. But can a thief say that he should not be arrested or charge sheeted merely because many other thieves in the country are roaming around scot free ? Does Article 14 of the Indian Constitution ( the right to equality ) apply in such matters ? I submit it does not, otherwise every…

Mamata Banerjee

Can Mamata Banerjee continue as Chief Minister? Learn from Justice Katju

Mamata Banerjee can continue as CM By Justice Markandey Katju Despite her defeat in Nandigram, Mamata Banerjee need not resign as Chief Minister of West Bengal. This is because of Article 164(4) of the Indian Constitution which states : “A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister “. That the word ‘Minister’ includes the Chief Minister becomes clear from Article 164(1) which states : “The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, —“. The words “other Ministers” indicate that the Chief Minister is also regarded a Minister for the purpose of Article 164. So Mamata Banerji can continue as CM for 6 months without being a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Within these 6 months she can contest a bye election and get elected. One of her own party’s MLAs may be asked to resign ( and offered some other post like chairmanship of some public corporation ), and Mamata can then contest for the vacant seat. This time, however, she will take no chances. She will obviously opt for a safe seat where her victory is certain. The Trinamul Congress seats are almost the same as in the 2016 elections. The drastic change in this election is that Congress and the Left parties have been practically wiped out, while there has been a huge increase for the BJP ( from 3 to 77 ). This is because of the religious polarisation in recent years of West Bengal, a state which till recently was regarded a bastion of secularism Interesting times are coming in West Bengal. (Justice Markandey Katju is former Chairman, Press Council of India and former Judge, Supreme Court of India.)