Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Friday sentenced West Bengal's Director-General of Police A.B. Vohra, the Jalpaiguri district magistrate and Superintendent of Police and 15 others to six-month simple imprisonment for criminal contempt.

The court, however, stayed the sentence for three weeks to allow them to appeal before the Supreme Court. A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice K.K. Prasad said the contemnors, despite specific directions by the court, failed to ensure the functioning of the Jalpaiguri district court in the course of an agitation demanding the immediate setting up of a circuit Bench of the High Court in the town. The agitation led to an "unprecedented" breakdown of the constitutional machinery in December 2006-January 2007, during which no court in the district could function.

Besides imprisonment, a fine of Rs. 2,000 was imposed on each of the contemnors. They would undergo imprisonment for another month if the fine was not paid.

Shortly after the sentence was passed, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee convened a meeting at the Secretariat. Law Minister Rabilal Moitra, Advocate-General Balai Roy, senior State officials and Mr. Vohra attended.

Mr. Moitra later said the Government would move the Supreme Court against the sentence served on its senior officials.

The order came following a suo motu contempt notice by the High Court on January 15 to the DGP and others. Their replies were unsatisfactory, the Bench said.

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