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Institutional anarchy, complete lawlessness prevailing in WB, Centre tells SC

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
"Institutional anarchy" and "complete lawlessness" have been prevailing in West Bengal as the police recently tried to arrest custom officials for checking the luggage of wife of a TMC leader at the Kolkata airport, the Centre alleged in the Supreme Court on Friday.
The custom officials at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata were "intimidated, harassed and threatened" by the local police for checking the baggage of wife of Trinmool Congress MP, who is a relative of Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, it said.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file a proper application in this regard.
"You have drawn our attention to the incident. Now, what do you want us to do," the bench told Mehta.
The solicitor general replied that they want the case to be registered against the concerned police officials, which is not being done.
"You file an appropriate application in this regard," the bench said.
Mehta said that on the intervening night of March 15-16 at around 1.10 AM, two women, who arrived from an international flight, and their luggage were checked by the custom officials.
"They 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," he said.
Mehta added that soon after the ladies left the airport, a huge contingent of police personnel entered the premises and tried to arrest the custom officials for checking the baggage of the women.
"This is institutional anarchy and complete lawlessness going on in West Bengal," he said, adding that custom 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 said.
The custom commissioner has narrated the entire incident and said that one of the ladies whose baggage was checked was wife of TMC MP Abhishek Bannerjee, nephew of the West Bengal CM, as per the letter.
The Commissioner alleged that police officers who entered the airport in different batches tried to intimidate, harass and threaten the custom officials with arrests.
The commissioner has said that West Bengal police wanted a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) by the custom officials where VIPs were not "checked" and "a safe passage of their VIPs without any interception by customs".
Police personnel, who arrived at the airport have claimed that they have received a complaint from one of the two women, who were checked by custom officials alleging harassment, intimidation and extortion by them, the letter said.

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First Published: Mar 29 2019 | 7:20 PM IST

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