Kolkata: The high court on Wednesday rapped the Calcutta police commissioner for failing to vacate a Naktala plot and said the army's help would be sought if the cops could not evict the occupants.
"There is lawlessness.... how is it possible that some people would agitate right in front of the city police commissioner? One person threatened to end his life with kerosene. I have come to know that the commissioner was there with a 500-strong force. Why could he not do anything? I will not spare anybody... if needed, I will call the army to tackle the issue," Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya said.
The judge's observation followed a submission by the owner of the 42-cottah plot, Lina Datta, that the police did not try to vacate the plot despite a high court order to do so.
The court was hearing a contempt plea filed on behalf of Datta, who had submitted a petition a couple of years ago seeking an order to return the plot to her.
The plot has a club - Youth Club - backed by Trinamul leaders and a defunct drainage pumping station. A multigym in the club has reportedly been set up with the patronage of minister Aroop Biswas.
The Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA) had requisitioned the plot - 253 NSC Bose Road in Naktala - 43 years ago to set up the pumping station. The facility was later handed over to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for maintenance.
The high court on Wednesday observed that the CMC was a trespasser. "You are a trespasser. How could the CMC erect a pumping station on a land without officially acquiring it? Would you allow outsiders if they come and occupy the CMC headquarters? Will Nabanna allow if suddenly some people try to barge in?" Justice Bhattacharya asked advocate Ashok Banerjee, who was representing the CMC.
Banerjee submitted the CMC needed the land for a pumping station as part of the Ganga Action Plan.
Justice Bhattacharya asked the advocate-general to take stock of the situation and file a report on January 14.
Datta has mentioned in her petition that no rent had been paid for the plot since it was requistioned.
The court had ordered the CMC to return the land to its owner and police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha to be present during the eviction. The court order could not be implemented last week as the CMC sought a stay. The plea is yet to be heard.
When a civic team went to the spot last Friday, Bhaskar Dam, the husband of the local Trinamul councillor, threatened to set himself ablaze in the presence of the top cop if any attempt was made to vacate the plot.
The 500-strong police team, led by Kar Purkayastha, left the spot after the civic team made itself scarce.