Calcutta HC halts Abhishek Banerjee’s ‘gherao’ plan for August 5, cites inconvenience to public

Calcutta HC halts Abhishek Banerjee's 'gherao' plan for August 5, cites inconvenience to public


On the 31st of July, the Calcutta High Court passed an interim order against TMC leaders who had announced to “gherao” (siege) the residences of all BJP leaders in West Bengal. The two-judge bench prohibited TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and other functionaries of the ruling party from moving ahead on the pre-planned “gherao” program of the residence of BJP leaders. 

The court said, “The private respondents (Abhishek Banerjee) and all concerned are restrained from holding such protest in any manner inconveniencing the general public on the 5th of August.”

The bench comprising Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya strongly criticised the “gherao” politics. The bench categorically noted that this is going beyond limits and called such gatherings as detrimental to the public interest. 

The bench observed, “The bottom line is you are not concerned about public or office goers. If suppose 1000/2000 people gherao, do you mean to say that only that person and no one else will be affected? The State has to interfere. If suppose someone says they want to gherao the High Court premises, will the state not take cognizance? We will direct that such a program cannot happen. This is going beyond limits. Such action by anyone is against the public interest.” 

Earlier, on the 21st of July, during its rally on Shahid Diwas, TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee announced to gherao the residences of BJP leaders on August 5. The Diamond Harbour MP alleged that the BJP-led Central government has stopped MNERGA funds due to their ‘vendetta politics’. 

Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court. In his petition, he claimed that while TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee called for gherao, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vetted his call from the same dais. During the same event, CM Banerjee spoke after her nephew and voiced her support, however, asking the supporters to protest 100 metres away from the houses of BJP leaders.

Petitioners counsel Senior Advocate Paramjit Patwalia stated that such incendiary remarks were made during a rally on the 21st of July. The counsel argued if the ‘gherao’ on the 5th of August would be allowed to go ahead, then it would cause a law-and-order situation in the State and alleged that this would be a “recipe for disaster in 341 places.” 

Challenging the writ petition, Advocate General SN Mookherjee claimed that the statement was merely a declaration and the state government had not given permission for any such gherao to take place.

TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee’s counsel argued that the “gherao” protest was meant to be a symbolic one and it would have been staged 100 metres away from the houses of BJP leaders and passage would have been given to senior citizens and school-going children.

The court clearly pointed out that such rallies cause public hindrance and cited examples of inconveniences caused because of the 21st July rally. However, the court has still kept the issue of maintainability open and given 10 days for the petitioners to file their affidavit.   

It noted, “We are not here to believe the stand that the rally will not cause public hindrance. In fact, when a rally was taken out last Friday [21st July], the entire court proceedings had come to a standstill and we had no work beyond 11:30 am. Question of maintainability left open.”

The court will take up the matter in the next hearing which will happen after two weeks.

Meanwhile, some media reports claim that the announcement of the gherao of residences of BJP leaders by TMC’s national general secretary was protested by many senior leaders within the party who were not supportive of his announcement.


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