Mocking Mamata: HC orders compensation to varsity prof

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday upheld the West Bengal Human Rights Commission's recommendation to pay compensation to Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra.

The professor was arrested in 2012 for circulating e-mails caricaturing chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Mahapatra had moved the high court after the Banerjee government in May 2013 turned down the commission's recommendation to compensate Mahapatra Rs50,000, contending that there was no human rights violation in the case.

Upholding the commission's recommendation, a bench of Justice Dipankar Datta directed the state government to pay the compensation within 30 days. He also upheld the panel's decision to initiate a departmental inquiry against two police officers who had arrested Mahapatra.

The court also directed the state government to pay Rs50,000 each to Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta towards legal expenses.

The chemistry professor along with Sengupta was arrested in 2012 for circulating e-mails mocking Banerjee and former railway minister Mukul Roy.

The collage of cartoons by Mahapatra had the photographs of Banerjee and Roy with some dialogues of Satyajit Ray's detective masterpiece Sonar Kella, showing the duo discussing how to get rid of party leader Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced by the chief minister to give up the railways portfolio.

Describing the incident as a "case of police excess and high handedness", the commission then headed by Justice A K Ganguly on 13 August 2012 had recommended that Mahapatra and Sengupta be given compensation of Rs50,000 each for the manner they were arrested and detained for a non-cognizable offence.

The panel had also recommended initiating departmental proceedings against two police officers of east Jadavpur police station for affecting the arrests.

Both Mahapatra and Ganguly welcomed the judgment.