Decided on September 01,1983

Usha Uthup Appellant


P.C.BOROOAH, J. - (1.) THE petitioner Sm. Usha Uthup does not require any introduction to the music loving people of India and also in many countries abroad. By her songs numerous charities, including those under the Red Cross, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, (he Indian Navy and Mother Teresa have been benefited. She has sung on television from all centres viz., Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras and also in the National Programme telecast from Delhi through different centres. She has also been seen and heard on television in Singapore, Hong Kong and in the United States of America. She is also a regular singer from various centres of AH India Radio. She bas sung in many of the public halls in Calcutta, including those owned and managed by the State Government and in her functions various dignitaries including the present and past Governors of West Bengal, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and Mother Teresa had. been present. Many of her records, both in long play and extended play, have been released in English, Hindi, Bengali and other Indian languages. Shehas also had the privilege of performing before the President of Kenya, the Prime Minister of Mauritius and before the Members of the British Houses of Parliament. No one in India or outside has till now objected to her songs or to the manner of her singing, till like a bolt from the blue came a purported statement from Shri Jatin Chakravorty, Minister -in -Charge of the Public Works Department of the Government of West Bengal (the respondent No. 5) and which was published in the Ananda Bazar Patrika on May 20, 1983. According to the said press statement, a copy of which and an English translation whereof have been set out in para 11 of the writ petition, the respondent No. 5 as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mahajati Sadau did not allow the petitioned to perform inthe said Hall as her songs and other performances of Disco are perverted culture (APASANSKRITI) and the tastes of those persons who sing such songs are very low and those who listen to such songs are also depraved. This publication was followed by a meeting between the petitioner and the said respondent at the Writers' Buildings where the same views were alleged to have been expressed by the respondent. The text of the purported conversation at the said meeting has been set out in paragraph 12 of the writ petition. Thereafter in the issue of the Telegraph of June 18, 1983 an interview between Shri Jatin Chakravorty and Shri Tarun Ganguly, a correspondent of the (paper) entitled 'Poor Cultural Taste' has been set out in para 14 of the writ petition. In course of the said interview the respondent No. 5 is alleged to have stated to Shri Ganguly : 'I have already told you that in the matter of Sudan Hall, I have used my discretion as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Why does she insist on performing in Government sponsored or Government -run halls ? Why does not Mrs. Uthup go for the private theatres in the city ? So far as i am concerned, we cannot allow her in Mahajati Sadan, Rabindra Sadan and the University Institute'. In the said interview in answer to a question put by Shri Ganguly as to what was his main grudge against disco music ? The answer was : 'You see this sort of music was given a boost during the Emergency to degrade Bengali culture. It kills our noble tradition of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. It is a planned move to tender the Bengali youth backboneless and it affects the moral fibre.'
(2.) ON May 18, 1983 Sm. Gita De, the Assistant Secretary of the Binodini Satya Gosthi of 5, Wards Institution Street, Calcutta went to the Mahajati Sadan, and in the absence of the Secretary of the Sadan, requested an employee for the use of the Hall for staging a charity performance in which the petitioner would perform, inter alia, to raise funds for a bed for indigent artistes in the Behala Cancer Hospital, when she was told that no function of Sm. Usha Uthup could be held in the said Hall. On Jan. 16. 1983 one Sri N. Sarkar, the Cultural Secretary of 'Aroop' a recretional organisation for music lovers of 13 Pratapa -ditys. Road, Calcutta went to Mahajati Sadan to book the hall for a performance by the petitioner but was refused. He met with the same fate in Rabindra Sadan. 'AALAP', a socio -cultural organisation was also allegedly refused permission to stage Sm. Usha Uthup's shows in Mahajati Sadan and Rabindra Sadan. Copies of the letters in the aforesaid context written by Sm. Gita De, Shri N. Sarkar and the General Secretary of AALAP are annexed to the petition and collectively marked with the letter 'A'. For the objectionable remarks said to have been made by Shri Jatin Chakravorty relating to the petitioner a suit for damages was filed on the Original Side of this Court on or about June 17, 1983. Thereafter the petitioner obtained the instant Rule on July 5, 1983. When the matter came up on July 7, 1983 as an application, a statement dated July 6, 1983 signed by Shri R. N. Sen Gupta, the Home Secretary and Shri Jyoti Basu, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, was filed before me. According to the said statement there would be no restriction as regards the availability of the Netaji Indoor Stadium, the Rabindra Sadan, Ahindra Mancha and Sirir Manch for staging musical and other performances, except cabaret dance, snake dance and belly dance, subject to the availability of the Halls and/or the Stadium and Police and other verification as required. In view of this statement. I by an order of the same date discharged the Rule as against the State respondents viz., respondents Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Thereafter on July 11, 1983 liberty was given to the petitioner to file a supplementary affidavit with additional materials by the 13th of that month and directions for affidavits, both to the writ petition and the supplementary affidavit, were also given. The Rule was taken up for hearing on August 2 and 3, 1983 when the respondents Nos. 4. 5 and 6 were represented by Advocates. On Aug. 3, 1983 in view of a statement issued to the Press by the respondent No. 4 his lawyer retired from the case with the Court's permission. I thereafter sent for the Advocate on record for the State of West Bengal, viz., Mr. R. C. Deb, who undertook to file a vakalatnama on behalf of the respondents Nos. 4 and 5 which he did on August 4, 1983. In the meantime on Aug. 2, 1983 an affidavit -in -opposition affirmed by Shri Jatin Chakravorty on behalf of himself and as the Chairman of the respondent No. 6 was filed with a backsheet of Mr. R. C. Deb. Mr. Deb, however, categorically denied in open Court that the backsheet was issued by him.
(3.) ON August 10, 1983 when the matter next appeared before me the learned Advocate General made an oral submission without giving reasons requesting me to release the matter. I adjourned the hearing to August 24, 1983 giving an opportunity to the respondent No. 5 to purge himself of the contempt for having made contumacious statements to the Press affecting the dignity of the Court. On the adjourned date the learned Advocate General again orally renewed his prayer for release of the case Without ascribing any reason as to why I should not hear the matter. As no apology had been tendered and as the matter was heard for a number of days and as the respondents Nos. 4, 5 and 6 were impleaded in their statutory capacity, I declined to release the matter. The arguments on behalf of the petitioners were thereafter concluded and judgment was reserved. A written application for transfer was purportedly moved before the learned Acting Chief Justice on August 26, 1983 in his Chamber by the . learned Advocate General but the prayer was not granted.;

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