West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was pilloried by political parties and the legal fraternity over her allegations that judgements can be bought with the critical remarks being dubbed "highly irresponsible" and "absurd".
The feisty Trinamool Congress supremo yesterday had alleged inside the West Bengal Assembly there were instances when court judgements have been "delivered for money" and that there was corruption in a section of judiciary.
There were also reports that a petition for contempt may be filed against Banerjee amid criticism that the allegations were unsubstantiated. "It is a serious allegation against the entire judiciary, which is very irresponsible, especially for a chief minister," Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Pravin Parekh said.
He said SCBA has not taken any decision to move the court against the remarks made by the chief minister. He, however, said he has heard that some petition is likely to be filed. Parekh said there is an option to move the Supreme Court or the Calcutta High Court for contempt and also for seeking damages.
As Banerjee's remarks drew sharp condemnation, Law Minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said he did not know in what context the statement was made but he believed that "the intention would be that the independence of the judiciary is to be protected".
"It is unbecoming of a Chief Minister to make this sort of unsubstantiated allegation against the Constitutional authority. She shouldn't have done so," BJP leader Balbir Punj said. CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim hit out at Banerjee, saying the Chief Minister took up the issue inside the assembly when "she is at the receiving end."
"...What about the cases, she has won in court? Who paid the judges? Mamata? This shows the absurdity of the allegations. I mean, one expects a mature reaction...I am very very disturbed," eminent lawyer Soli Sorabji said.
Retired Justice Santosh Hegde, who was once a member of the now disbanded Team Anna, said the Chief Minister should have been more prudent.