West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was criticised on Wednesday by political parties and the legal fraternity for her allegation that judgments can be bought. Her remarks were dubbed “highly irresponsible” and “absurd.”
Ms. Banerjee said in the Assembly on Tuesday that there were instances of judgments having been “delivered for money,” and there was corruption in a section of the judiciary.
There were also reports that a contempt petition might be filed against Ms. Banerjee, amid criticism that the allegations were unsubstantiated.
“It is a serious allegation against the entire judiciary, which is very irresponsible, especially on the part of a Chief Minister,” Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Pravin Parekh said. He said the SCBA had not taken any decision to move the court. But he said he heard that some petition was likely to be filed. There was an option to move either the Supreme Court or the Calcutta High Court for contempt and to seek damages.
Union Law Minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said that though he was unaware of the context in which the statement was made, he believed that “the intention would be that the independence of the judiciary is to be protected.”
The Opposition also hit out at Ms. Banerjee and said: “It is unbecoming of a Chief Minister to make this sort of unsubstantiated allegation against the constitutional authority. She shouldn’t have done so,” BJP leader Balbir Punj said. The CPI(M)’s Mohammed Salim said Ms. Banerjee took up the issue inside the Assembly when “she is at the receiving end.”
Eminent lawyer Soli Sorabjee said he was disturbed by the remarks. “What about the cases she has won in court? Who paid the judges? Mamata? This shows the absurdity of the allegations. I mean, one expects a mature reaction. I am very, very disturbed,” he said.