KOLKATA — The West Bengal government was today ordered by the Calcutta High Court to pay within one month Rs.50,000 as compensation to professor Ambikesh Mahapatra who was arrested in 2012 for posting cartoons of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Asking the state government to implement the recommendations of the state Human Rights Commission, Justice Dipankar Dutta directed the state to pay Rs 50,000 each to Mahapatra and Subrata Sengupta, who was the president of the housing society they live in, apart from another Rs 50,000 towards their expenditure on litigation.
The compensation would have to be paid within one month, the court directed, adding that an investigation be held into the role of two police officials of the concerned police station which had arrested Mahapatra.
Mahapatra had posted in the Internet cartoons of Banerjee and Mukul Roy, till recently the most trusted lieutenant of the Trinamool Congress supremo, after the Rail budget in 2012.
A complaint had allegedly been lodged against Mahapatra and Sengupta, in whose name the IP address of the computer used for the purpose was registered, and both were arrested.
They were later granted bail by a city court.
"It is a victory of human rights," Mahapatra said after the court order, adding "the verdict reflects the right to freedom of speech".
He said common people in the state were suffering in many ways when they raise questions of "misrule" of the Trinamool government.
Following an outrage over the issue and the human rights organisations crying foul over the violation of the rights of free speech and expression, the WBHRC took up the matter suo motu and awarded compensation of Rs 50,000 each to Mahapatra and Sengupta.
It had directed the police authorities to take disciplinary action against two of its officers.
The state had declined to implement the recommendations of the WBHRC. The duo then moved a writ petition before the high court seeking implementation of the recommendations.
Mahapatra, a professor of chemistry in the prestigious Jadavpur University here, was arrested on April 14, 2012, along with Sengupta.