Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb on Saturday told the civil service officers to not fear “contempt of court” while performing their duties as he “controls” a certain part of the law and order, NDTV reported.
Deb made the comments – which have been widely shared on social media – during the 26th biennial conference of the Tripura Civil Service Officers’ Association at Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhawan.
“I have been told by many officers that they cannot perform a particular task because doing so will cause contempt of court,” he said. “Why fear that? The court will give its judgment, but the police will implement that. The police are under my control.”
Deb said that the civil service officers are scared of the courts as if they were “tigers”, which he said should not be the case as he was the “tiger”.
“I am at the helm of this government elected by the people,” he said. “People say ‘by the people’ government, not ‘by the court’. The court is for people, people aren’t for the court.”
The Tripura chief minister added that he had not feared contempt of court or the warnings given by the chief secretary before opting for ad hoc promotion of the government officials in his Cabinet. The case of their promotion has been pending before the Supreme Court since 2015.
The government officials, according to him, needed to be rightfully promoted before they retire.
The Opposition parties criticised the comments made by Deb. Communist Party of India (Marxist) Tripura Secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said that Deb’s comments were “astonishing” and “unfortunate”, The Indian Express reported.
“How can a person holding the chair of the highest constitutional person of a state pass a comment, which is totally against the spirit of the Constitution?” he said. “It is abusing the spirit of the Constitution.”
Chaudhury also said that Deb’s comments were undermining the law and can encourage miscreants.
Tripura Congress President Birajit Sinha said that every person should respect the judiciary, The Indian Express reported.
“The clash between judiciary and executive is not desired to happen for the sake of democracy,” he said.
West Bengal minister Moloy Ghatak requested the Supreme Court to invoke the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, against Deb. His comments were “unfounded, unwarranted, scurrilous and sarcastic”, Ghatak added.
Trinamool Congress General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee posted a part of Deb’s speech on Twitter, saying that the Tripura chief minister was a “disgrace to the whole nation”.