Protests demanding punishment for the accused in cases involving atrocities on women is a ‘social outcry’ and cannot be the ground for transferring the case, senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said in the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday.

Mr. Bhattacharya made the submission in connection with a petition, filed by the accused in the alleged gang rape and murder of a college girl at Kamduni in North 24 Parganas last month, seeking the shifting of the trial from a local court in the district.

The accused had cited the protests outside the district court premises and the refusal of the advocates to take up the case as reasons for seeking the transfer.

“This kind of agitation is not uncommon. If cases are to be transferred for staging protests there will [be] no end to such transfers,” Mr. Bhattacharjee, who is representing the victim’s family members said, pointing out that similar protests were held after the gang rape and murder of a para-medical student in New Delhi.

Appearing for the accused, advocate Phiroze Edulji submitted that the protests in connection with the gang rape and murder in New Delhi were not held outside the court premises as in this case.

The fundamental right of the accused under Article 22(1) of the Constitution to be defended by an advocate of his choice was being violated, he said.

 Referring to the Supreme Court’s several judgments, including the one in the case of Ajmal Amir Kasab, he said legal aid should be provided to the accused from the first day they are produced before a Magistrate, something that has not been done in this case.

 Mr. Bhattacharya also argued that the witnesses, who are local villagers, may be threatened, kidnapped and gagged if the proceedings are held elsewhere.

  Referring to recent comments made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accusing the villagers of Kamduni of indulging in politics and of being involved in Maoist activities, he said the entire village was being “stigmatised.”

Justice Ashim Kumar Roy asked investigating officers to prepare a list of local witnesses in the case, including those from the village. The court concluded the hearing in the matter during the day and reserved its judgment.

  • The fundamental rights of the accused to be defended by an advocate is being violated: Edulji

  • Witnesses may be threatened, kidnapped and gagged if proceedings are held elsewhere: Bhattacharya