The Calcutta High Court while expressing dissatisfaction over the investigation process taken up by the Kolkata Police in identifying the persons involved in the Advocates’ protest outside the Courtroom of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha directed the Registrar General to supply copies of the CCTV recordings.

The Bench comprising Justice T. S. Sivagnanam, Justice I. P. Mukerji, and Justice Chitta Ranjan Dash said, “So far as the report of the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata qua the identification of the printing press where the posters were printed and the persons, who have placed the order for printing of such posters, we are not fully convinced with the stand taken by the Commissioner of Police. Had the investigation been more vigorous, by now the miscreants would have been identified. In any event, we do not wish to foreclose the prayer made by the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata for granting further time to identify the printing press and the persons, who had given the order for printing the posters.”

Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee and Senior Advocate Arunava Ghosh represented the Bar Association of the High Court while Senior Advocate Ajay Chatterjee represented the High Court Bar Library Club and Advocate Avinash Kankani represented the Bar Council of India.

The Commissioner of Police, Kolkata filed a report before the Court in a sealed cover containing three copies. The report stated that there was the identification of the printing press where defamatory posters were printed. The police also sought help from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to identify the nature of papers, ink, etc. to derive information helping in the process of investigation of the cases and identify the possible printing press behind the act.

The Court was informed that the number of printing presses to be examined was more than 250 and the police also needed to cover some areas even beyond the jurisdiction of Kolkata Police. Hence, the prayer was made to grant a three weeks’ time to identify the printing press.

The High Court noted, “The CCTV recordings are shared with the aforementioned persons / entities to enable them to identify such of those members of the Bar, who had obstructed the entry of lawyers inside Court Room No.13 on 9th January, 2023 and who had raised slogans, etc. We are confident that the above persons / entities will assist the Court in proper identification of those lawyers, who will thereafter be made parties to the proceedings and would be heard in the matter.”

The Court, therefore, issued notice to the six alleged contemnors returnable on the next date of hearing.

“The statutory body and the associations, who have been requested to assist this Court in this proceedings with a direction to identify those lawyers who were part of the incident which took place on 9th January, 2023 shall submit an affidavit disclosing the names”, the Court directed.

Accordingly, the matter will be heard next on March 15, 2023.

Cause Title- The Court on its own motion

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