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Calcutta HC penalises Rs 1 Lakh on itself for wrongly punishing Magistrate

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Kolkata, July 10: In an unusual order, the Calcutta High Court recently imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on itself, after it found itself to blame for having erroneously confirmed a penalty of compulsory retirement on a Railway Magistrate cum Judicial Magistrate.

The Magistrate had been suspended in 2007 on allegations that he had overstepped his jurisdiction.

File photo of Calcutta High Court

Judge Mintu Mallick had a dual charge of Judicial Magistrate, 4th Court and Railway Magistrate, Sealdah at the time of his suspension. In May 2007, the judge had taken up proceedings suo motu over the issue of certain trains running late a suspicion that such trains would make stops in between to drop contraband material near New Alipore.

In an ostensible effort to inquire into the matter, the judge first enquired with the driver of the train that had arrived late by 15 minutes as to the reason for the delay. For this purpose, he also entered the driver's cabin.

After he failed to get any satisfactory answers from the driver, he directed both the driver and the train guard to present themselves in the railway court the same day.

Sensing their reluctance, Mallick directed the railway police to ensure that both were represented in his courtroom at Sealdah station.

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Mallick's act triggered large-scale trouble with railway employees, mostly motormen and drivers, protesting in front of his chamber, abusing him, vandalising his room and holding him hostage without water and electricity for several hours. The agitation led also to massive train disruptions.

The Calcutta HC, which is the administrative authority of all judges, conducted its own "discreet" inquiry and based on the report suspended Mallick and initiated a probe against him.

The probe report indicting Mallick was endorsed by the HC's administrative committee. His appeal to the Governor was also rejected on the HC's recommendations. Later a writ petition filed by him was also dismissed by a single-judge bench of the HC.

Mallick, who had argued his case himself, moved the HC division bench saying his contentions were ignored and he was not even conveyed the reason for the disciplinary authorities sustaining the charges against him.

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