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Tapas case: HC begins hearing State appeal

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The division bench of Calcutta High Court will hear the appeal of the State challenging the order of a single bench directing the State government to start criminal proceedings against actor-MP Tapas Paul for his “rape and shoot” comment.

Justice Girish Gupta and Topobrata Chakravarty’s Bench said that since the court was hearing the matter “order will not be given till 2 pm tomorrow (Thursday).”

Mr. Justice Gupta, who was reading out the interim stay, also added that that the hearing would resume tomorrow at 10-30 am.

The judges heard the defence as well as petitioner’s counsel on Wednesday.

The court witnessed a debate on the word “cognisable” on Wednesday. Tapas Paul’s defence, another Lok Sabha M.P. Kalyan Banerjee, appointed by the State government, said that on basis of “media report” it could not be decided whether an offence was cognisable or not. “However, the petitioner (Biplab Kumar Chowdhury) has lodged a case on basis of the media reports, he said,” Mr Banerjee said and questioned the veracity of the complaint in his appeal.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Aniruddha Chatterjee, however, said Mr Paul’s remarks were indeed an offence of cognisable nature.

Mr Chatterjee quoted from Section 153 A (1) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to substantiate his argument.

Part of the long Section says that a person “shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to three years or with fine or with both” if he/she hurts sentiments by “words, either spoken or written or by visible representations or otherwise.”

To this, Mr. Justice Gupta said he was postponing the hearing till Thursday morning. The interim stay, in effect means, till Thursday police would not initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Paul.

The government moved the Division Bench of Justice Gupta and Justice Chakravarty on Tuesday, challenging the interim order of the single bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta.

On Monday, Justice Dutta asked the police to file an FIR against Mr. Paul, while directing the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe Mr. Paul’s remarks. A footage shot on a phone camera, which surfaced on June 30, showed Mr. Paul threatening to shoot his political opponents and unleash “his boys to rape their families.”

Reacting to Mr. Paul’s counsel appointment, the CPI (M) state secretary Biman Basu asked if the MP “is not a part of the State government….then why has it gone all out to save him, spending so much money on the case.”

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