I did not call all judges thieves: Mamata

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 16, 2012 18:39 hrs

Kolkata, Aug 16 (IBNS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she did not call all judges thieves but rather demanded reforms in judiciary and electoral system. She said she "stands by what I said."

Speaking to reporters at state secretariat Writers´ Buildings shortly after petitions against her were admitted by the Calcutta High Court, Mamata Banerjee said: "I stand by what I say. I will say that again and again and crores of times. I never called all the judges as thieves."

She said she has called for value based judiciary.

An angry Mamata Banerjee said she herself is a lawyer and can speak for her countrymen and would raise all issues and points about everything, including media, if she got an opportunity.

She said her comments were distorted and her observations about media, and how media is used as a front for doing business was not reported.

"There is no need to think all politicians or judges or mediapersons are bad or good. There is good and bad both in every profession," she said.

"You have the freedom to report in the channel and I have the freedom to defend myself," she said, adding that the media does not have the guts to report all that she said.

She warned the media against distorting any reportage.

Earlier, Calcutta High Court division bench of judges KJ Sengupta and AK Mondal, which on Thursday reviewed petitions demanding criminal contempt action against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her anti-judiciary comments, has asked some TV channels to file an affidavit on the reportage of the seminar where Banerjee purportedly made the observations.

While admitting the petitions- a PIL and a criminal contempt case- demanding contempt proceedings against the chief minister, the judges said they would review the matter and would also seek the version of Mamata Banerjee also.

The court would take three weeks till the next hearing of the cases.

The court asked also filing of affidavits by popular news channels like ABP Ananda and 24 Ghanta among others on the video footage which were presented before court by lawyer, former mayor of Kolkata and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

Bhattacharjee has presented before the court video footage of Mamata´s remarks which he said he downloaded online.

The court would verify that the video footage is not doctored.

Mamata Banerjee has accused judiciary of selling verdicts for money.

A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed by two lawyers and another contempt petition by Bhattacharjee against Mamata Banerjee following her comments at a seminar inside the state assembly.

Legal fraternity in Kolkata and across India condemned the utterances and also organised street protests in the afternoon.

"The statement by the CM was derogatory and scandalous," Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, adding that the court heard his plea.

Some legal experts have flayed Mamata Banerjee for her remark inside assembly that judiciary is giving verdicts in lieu of money instead of passing fair judgements.

Former Attorney General and senior counsel Soli Sorabjee said he was shocked by the comment of Mamata Banerjee and whether or not it is contempt of court it is unacceptable.

Senior advocate Harish Salve said he was appalled to hear the remarks of Mamata Banerjee.

"If this is going to be the tone and tenor of our democracy then our Constitution is in serious peril," he said.

Mamata Banerjee said she would go to jail for her comments against judiciary if such a situation arose.

Unlike in the state, Congress party at the centre, however, tried to justify the utterances of Banerjee.

Congress senior leader and Union Minister Salman Khurshid said the chief minister must have spoken the words in context of judicial accountability.

Some West Bengal Congress leaders slammed the chief minister for her comment and said the CM faced jolts by recent judgements and directions by judges.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) headed by a former Supreme Court judge- Ashok Kumar Ganguly- recently has recommended punishment for two police officials responsible for the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor and his neighbour in April in Kolkata after the former circulated a cartoon of Mamata Banerjee online and posted it on a social networking site.

The WBHRC also recommended monetary compensation of Rs 50,000 each for the two victims.

Mamata Banerjee has also spoken against Ashok Kumar Ganguly after the Commission´s verdict.

Mamata Banerjee also faced a legal defeat so far in the Singur land case against the Tatas.

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