New Delhi :
A division bench of Calcutta High Court on Friday quashed its single bench order allowing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to carry out Rath Yatras in West Bengal. The division bench headed by Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta the BJP’s Rath Yatra case back to the single bench and directed it to consider intelligence inputs by state agencies. On Thursday, a single bench of the Calcutta High Court had allowed the BJP to carry out "Save Democracy" political procession across the state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The High Court decision has come as a blow to the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government, that had denied permission for the “rath yatras”. The state government had told the court that the permission was denied following intelligence inputs expressing fear of a breach of communal harmony.
Appearing for the state government, Advocate General Kishore Dutta had Wednesday submitted an intelligence report in a sealed cover and said the issues stated in the BJP's brochure publicising the "rath yatra" were communally sensitive in nature. In the defence, BJP counsel SK Kapoor cited Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March during the British rule to make a case for the yatra.
"In the worst days of the British period, Mahatma Gandhi held the Dandi march. But now the West Bengal government says it won't allow a political procession," Kapoor argued. He further added that the West Bengal government was denying a political party from organising procession – a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.
However, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government had then moved to the division bench of Calcutta High Court seeking to stay the procession of the saffron party. The TMC has been accusing the saffron party of spreading communal tension in a bid to make inroads into the state politics.
Both the parties have been at loggerheads after the state government's refused to grant the BJP permission to carry out the procession. The denial also irked BJP president Amit Shah, who had openly challenged that "nobody can stop rath yatras in the state". Shah had claimed that the permission was not granted because CM Banerjee was "terrified" that the BJP would expand its base in the state.