Calcutta High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging D.Litt To Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court today dismissed a Public Interest Litigation or PIL challenging the Calcutta University’s decision to confer D.Litt on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice J Bhattacharya and Justice A Banerjee dismissed the PIL and observed that no public interest was harmed because of the decision.

Ms Banerjee was conferred the D.Litt degree at the university’s convocation ceremony on 11th January.

The court also noted that necessary parties had not been added in the petition. The petitioner alleged that the members of the university’s senate had erred in its decision, but none of them were made a party in the plea, the division bench said.

During hearings in the case, earlier this month, state Advocate General Kishore Datta had questioned the maintainability of the petition, claiming that it was politically motivated and aimed at garnering media attention.

Saktinath Mukherjee, the counsel of Calcutta University (CU), had stated that the petition was not justifiable and that it should be rejected forthwith as the university senate’s decision to grant the degree to Ms Banerjee has not caused any injury to public interest.

In his submission, Mr Mukherjee claimed that the CU senate was the final authority in deciding who would be an awardee and that anybody else was an outsider with no authority to challenge the decision.

He said before the court that the achievements and eminence of a person were reasons enough for being chosen for the award.

COMMENTSPetitioner Ranjugopal Mukherjee, a former professor of the CU, had contended that the decision of the syndicate or senate did not attribute any reason for conferring D.Litt on Mamata Banerjee and that it was “arbitrary and opaque”.

Claiming that senate members were nominated by the state, his counsel Bikash Bhattacharya had submitted that in this case, “the nominated persons are nominating the nominator.”