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Home > 2024 > Malady of ‘Judicial Activism’ in West Bengal | Arup Kumar Sen

Mainstream, VOL 62 No 22, June 1, 2024

Malady of ‘Judicial Activism’ in West Bengal | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 1 June 2024, by Arup Kumar Sen

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Very recently, some untoward incidents took place in West Bengal in the political campaigns pertaining to the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The former ‘jurist’ and judge of the Calcutta High Court, Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) immediately after his voluntary retirement, has been barred by the Election Commission of India (EC) for campaigning for 24 hours for uttering foul words against the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, in his campaign speech on May 15, 2024. Gangopadhyay is the BJP’s Tamluk candidate in the current Lok Sabha Elections. The ECI order stated: “The Commission hereby strongly censures Abhijit Gangopadhyay for the above-said misconduct…and also strictly warns him to remain careful in his utterances during the currency of Model Code of Conduct.” The order noted that the Commission is pained that such abominable words came from someone of his “educational and professional background and hence does not remotely deserve any benefit of doubt.” (See www.telegraphindia.com)

On May 23, 2024, the Trinamool Congress filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India against the West Bengal Governor, C V Ananda Bose, saying that he is “using his good office” to canvass for the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections. It was said in the said complaint: “…on 23. 01. 2024, the Hon’ble Governor while attending a public function at Ram Temple, Central Avenue, Kolkata was seen to be wearing a BJP logo on his chest, for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections to solicit votes for the BJP…” (Quoted in The Indian Express, May 24, 2024)

We do not certainly know whether the complaint lodged by the TMC with the ECI against the Governor is based on factual evidence. What is alarming is that a former judge of the Calcutta High Court has blatantly violated the Model Code of Conduct in his election campaign and uttered “abominable words” against the woman chief minister of West Bengal. This incident testifies that ‘judicial activism’ has got a new pejorative meaning in contemporary West Bengal.

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