New Delhi: Eighteen people including four top functionaries of the West Bengal government have been convicted for contempt of court after no action was taken to help resume work in the New Jalpaiguri district court.
The Calcutta High Court on Friday sentenced the Director General of Police, District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of Jalpaiguri district to six months imprisonment for criminal contempt of court.
The three faced the court's ire along with 15 others for the "constitutional breakdown" in the district during an agitation demanding setting up of a circuit bench of the High Court there.
Court proceedings were stalled for almost a month due to the protest. The bench observed that even after its order, the officers did not act to remove obstructions and road blocks, which were dismantled by the protestors themselves.
After almost a month of inaction, the High Court took suo moto cognizance and convicted 18 people. However, the court has stayed the conviction for the next three weeks.
The court directed that apart from the six months' simple imprisonment, they would have to undergo another one month's imprisonment if they fail to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 each.
In a scathing indictment of the state police chief A B Vohra, the court observed that he had not cared to even monitor the situation in Jalpaiguri or ask his officers to restore normalcy despite specific directions to that effect by the High Court.
Observing that Vohra and the district police officers had committed the crime of letting the protestors hold the Constitution and fundamental rights of people to ransom for a month, the bench said that it was not expected for the police chief to say in his reply that no law and order problem was created as the agitation was peaceful.
(With inputs from PTI)