New Delhi: Agreeing to hear a plea alleging harassment of customs officials at Kolkata Airport for checking the luggage of a Trinamool leader’s wife, the Supreme Court said on Friday that something “very very serious” seemed to be going on in West Bengal.
The apex court has now asked the West Bengal government to file its reply on the plea within four weeks. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna reportedly said, “Someone has drawn our attention to something very very serious. We don’t know yet whose claim is bona fide but we would like to go into the root of the matter.”
Appearing for the Customs Department, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the plea pertains to the incident of March 15-16 when customs officials were obstructed from carrying out their duty.
He said it happened when two women, including one Rujira Naroola Banerjee, wife of Abhishek Banerjee who is TMC MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were intercepted at the airport for checking.
On March 29, the Centre had told the apex court that customs officials at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata were “intimidated, harassed and threatened” by the local police for checking the baggage of the wife of the TMC MP.
It had also alleged that “institutional anarchy” and “complete lawlessness” have been prevailing in West Bengal. Mehta had told the court that on the intervening night of March 15-16 at around 1.10 AM, the two women “were asked to allow checking of their baggage but they resisted. They were asked to show their passports after which they abused the officials present there.”
Mehta had added that soon after the ladies left the airport, a contingent of police personnel entered the premises and tried to arrest the customs officials for checking the baggage of the women. “This is institutional anarchy and complete lawlessness going on in West Bengal,” he had said, adding that customs officials tried to lodge the FIR but no case was registered by the police so far.
A letter was written by Assistant Commissioner of Customs to Inspector-in-charge of Airport police station on March 22, seeking registration of an FIR for interfering, obstruction and criminal intimidation by the West Bengal police, he had said.
Meanwhile, the police personnel who had arrived at the airport claimed that they had received a complaint from one of the two women who was checked by customs officials alleging harassment, intimidation and extortion by them.