Agartala: In a big blow to the opposition Congress in Tripura, the Tripura High Court on Monday upheld the three-month jail term given to state party chief Birajit Sinha by a sessions court in October 2013 for violation of an administrative order.
The high court division bench, comprising Chief Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Shubhasish Talapatra, endorsed the jail term handed down to Sinha by the district and sessions court in Unakoti.
The court, however, rejected three of the Left Front government`s four-point appeal by rejecting the plea for enhancing Sinha`s punishment, charges of murder and violation of the Arms Act.
In a hurriedly called press conference, Leader of Opposition Sudip Roy Barman and lawyer Pijush Biswas, who represented Sinha in the high court, said the party "accepted" the verdict but would appeal in the Supreme Court.
"The conviction order was passed by the district court for violation of the administrative order and not for anything else. Sinha has been asked by the high court to surrender to the court within a month," said Biswas.
Sinha, 65, also a former minister, who is now in Delhi to attend a meeting with the Congress central leadership, could not be contacted for reaction.
The legal battle in the court started on July 20, 2004 when Sinha, accompanied by his personal security officer, had gone to Babur Bazar area in northern Tripura`s Kailasahar after receiving reports of alleged booth-capturing by the Communist Party of India-Marxist cadres during panchayat elections.
When he reached there, Sinha was reportedly engaged in a confrontation with CPI-M members, leading to firing that led to the death of a CPI-M leader on the spot.
Sinha`s advocate Biswas said the Congress leader had gone to the place carrying his licensed pistol which had 12 bullets, and had five extra bullets.
"His gun was licensed and he was authorised to carry 12 bullets, so he was charged with carrying five extra bullets in violation of the administrative order for which he was convicted in the district and session court which rejected all other charges," he added.
"We would file an appeal in the Supreme Court that as per law, Sinha was permitted to keep altogether 50 bullets though he could carry 12 bullets while going out with the gun. In view of the gravity of the situation, he was forced to carry five extra bullets. We would place this argument before the apex court," said Biswas.
Based on complaints lodged by CPI-M leaders, Sinha was accused of killing one of his security personnel, Nikhil Deb, when he was escorting Sinha and three others Congress leaders.