WB: Defamation charges against Mahapatra dropped
Kolkata: West Bengal Police on Friday dropped defamation charges against Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra who was earlier arrested for circulating e-mails mocking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Police, in the charge sheetfiled on Friday in a South 24 Parganas court, charged Mahapatra only under section 66A of the Information Technology Act which penalises "sending false and offensive messages through communication services".
In the first information report (FIR), Mahapatra was booked under Indian Penal Code for defamation punishable with two years imprisonment and outraging modesty of woman which carries a maximum punishment of one year simple imprisonment.
The arrest of Mahapatra in April this year was widely condemned but Banerjee justified the administrative action and went on to say the circulation of the mail was a part of "conspiracy to eliminate me". She even branded the professor a "CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) man".
Banerjee also walked out of a TV show after being asked uncomfortable questions over the issue.
Following much hue and cry generated by his arrest, Mahapatra was granted bail the next day.
Later, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission taking suo motto cognisance of the case, not only recommended departmental proceedings against two police officers for being "over-zealous" but also ordered the state government to pay compensation to Rs 50,000 to Mahapatra and his neighbour who too was arrested for the crime.
Expressing happiness over the dropping of the charges, Mahapatra on Friday said: "Justice has finally prevailed but still there is a charge against me under the IT Act and I wish I am exonerated of it."