A Mumbai metropolitan magistrate court has summoned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a case filed by a BJP member for allegedly ‘disrespecting’ the national anthem.
The court issued the order on Tuesday after an incident involving Banerjee at a public function at Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan Auditorium in Mumbai in December, The Indian Express reports.
“It is prima facie evident from the complaint, verification statement of the complainant, video clip in the DVD and video clips on YouTube links that the accused had sung National Anthem and stopped abruptly and left the dais which prima facie prove that the accused (Banerjee) has committed punishable under section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971,” Metropolitan Magistrate PI Mokashi said in the order passed on Tuesday.
BJP Mumbai secretary, lawyer Vivekanand Gupta, filed the complaint in the court last month, according to The Indian Express.
The complaint claimed that at the end of the event, Banerjee began singing the national anthem while seated. It further stated that Banerjee had later stood up, sung two verses, after which she abruptly stopped and left the venue.
The complaint sought action against Banerjee under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Section 3 of the Act states that any offence under it is punishable for a term which may extend up to three years or a fine or both in case a person is guilty of intentionally preventing or causing disturbance to any assembly engaged in singing the national anthem.
The magistrate’s court said since it was not a government function nor an official event, a sanction is not required to proceed against Banerjee in the case, according to The Indian Express.
“…though the accused is Chief Minister of West Bengal, she was not discharging her official duties. Thereby this act of accused…does not come under her official duty. Therefore, sanction is not required and there is no bar to proceed against the accused,” the court said.
It further stated that prima facie evidence brought on record is sufficient to proceed against her as per provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. Banerjee has been given time till March 2 to respond to the summons.