The West Bengal government today told the Calcutta High Court that a PIL challenging Calcutta University's decision to confer honorary D.Litt to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was politically motivated.
Calcutta University is slated to confer the degree to Banerjee, an alumnus of the university, at its convocation tomorrow.
Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted before a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice J Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee that the decision to confer the honorary degree was taken by the syndicate and senate of the university and there was no sufferance of public interest.
Dutta claimed that as such it should not be treated as a PIL and the petition should be dismissed.
Petitioner Ranjugopal Mukherjee, a former professor of the university, claimed that the decision to confer the award was arbitrary and opaque.
He submitted that the syndicate or senate decision did not attribute any reason for conferring the award on Banerjee.
Claiming that the senate members were nominated by the state, Bhattacharya submitted that "here the nominated persons are nominating the nominator."
He also claimed that no incumbent chief minister has been conferred with the honorary degree by Calcutta University.
However, the AG said there was no bar on awarding the honorary degree to an incumbent chief minister, and submitted that Pranab Mukherjee was conferred the degree when he was the president of the country.
Claiming that the petition "is out and out in political interest," Dutta submitted that "except character assassination, nothing is there."
Appearing for the university, counsel Saktinath Mukherjee submitted that the petition lacked "justifiability" and should be rejected at the outset.
Hearing on the PIL was adjourned for the day and will be taken up again tomorrow morning.
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