Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told the civil service officials not to worry about contempt of court as it wasn't easy to send someone to jail as the police was under the "control" of the chief minister.
Speaking at the 26th biennial conference of Tripura Civil Service Officers Association (TCSOA) organized at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan on Saturday in Agartala, Deb said a section of officers were citing contempt of court as if it was a “tiger”, adding, “I am the tiger”.
The video of the speech has been widely shared online.
"Nowadays, a section of officers are scared of contempt of court. They don't touch a file saying there will be trouble, citing contempt of court. I will be jailed for contempt of court if I do this," he said while speaking at the programme.
"Where is the problem? How many officers have been sent to jail on contempt of court charge so far? I am here, I will go to jail before any one of you are dragged to jail," he said.
Deb added that sending someone to jail was not easy as police were needed to do that.
"And, I control the police. The way the officials are citing the situation as if contempt of court was like a tiger! I want to assure all of you that I am the tiger. The power is in the hands of who runs the government," Deb said amid huge applause from the audience.
The chief minister also mentioned his experience with a former chief secretary over the issue.
"One of our chief secretaries said that he will be jailed for contempt of court if he does work outside the system... Then I let him go and die," he said in a mocking tone.
His comment sparked controversy with opposition parties saying that under his regime, democracy was at stake.
The Trinamool Congress also slammed Deb and urged the Supreme Court to take cognisance of his comments.
TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee tweeted."BjpBiplab is a DISGRACE to the entire nation! He shamelessly mocks Democracy, MOCKS the Hon'ble JUDICIARY and seemingly gets away with it!Will the SUPREME COURT take cognizance of his comments that reflect such grave disrespect?" he wrote.
.@BjpBiplab is a DISGRACE to the entire nation!
He shamelessly mocks Democracy, MOCKS the Hon'ble JUDICIARY and seemingly gets away with it!
Will the SUPREME COURT take cognizance of his comments that reflect such grave disrespect? pic.twitter.com/0qEAdBQ54r— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) September 26, 2021
OSD to Deb, Sanjay Mishra in a tweet defended the CM saying, “You must listen to the full speech before spreading your fake propaganda which you have learned from your political guru CPM and how much respect you have for government institutions we all know that.”
You must listen to the full speech before spreading your fake propaganda which you have learned from your political guru CPM and how much respect you have for government institutions we all know that. https://t.co/T1EBU2aeHx pic.twitter.com/nSoGGXO09u— Sanjay Mishra (@sanjayswadesh) September 26, 2021
As per the Rise East report, a group of senior Advocate raised questions on the Chief minister’s statement citing it to be a contempt of court, however, it was declined by the division bench headed by Chief Justice AA Kureshi.
Advocate General Siddhartha Shankar Dey argued that the statement of the chief minister was misinterpreted and presented before the people to mislead them and gain political mileage.
Deb, too, on September 27 justified his statement on Facebook saying, "The reporting of my speech on 25/9/21 is being twisted and wrongly reported to some print and electronic media to project disregard to the judiciary and judicial institutions."
"I firmly and unequivocally clarify that I hold all the judicial institutions in highest esteem and also am duty bound to uphold the majesty of judiciary," he wrote.
"I have not told the officers or even remotely intended to convey any message to disregard courts or disrespect court orders as reported My words have been published out of context."
However, this is not the first time, the CM has made a controversial statement. Earlier, he claimed that internet existed during the "era of Mahabharata." He had also said that Punjabis and Jats are physically strong but less intelligent than Bengalis. Similarly, at an event in Udaipur in 2018, Kumar had said that Rabindranath Tagore had returned his Nobel Prize in protest against the British.(With inputs from PTI)