Mamata Banerjee Gets Honourary Doctorate Amid Court Hearing Against It

Calcutta University conferred an honorary doctorate on Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The University's decision has been challenged in the high court, where the petitioner argued that such a degree is not in public interest.

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Mamata Banerjee received a D.Litt degree from the Calcutta University today.


Kolkata:  Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee received her honourary Doctorate of Literature (D.Litt) degree from the Calcutta University today as a court heard a petition which challenged the decision and called the Chief Minister "ineligible" for the honour.

A retired vice-chancellor of the North Bengal University had urged the court to put brakes on the Calcutta University's decision, saying it was "against public interest" -- a stand the state has vehemently opposed. The court heard the arguments yesterday for three hours and another hearing was slated for today.

Ahead of the convocation, the petitioner also wrote to Governor KN Tripathi -- who is the university's chancellor - saying the matter was sub judice.

At the convocation this afternoon - held at an auditorium in south Kolkata -- Ms Banerjee spoke of the "rising intolerance" in the country. "Intolerance is rising in the country. History should not be distorted. India has diversity of origin and we should respect that," she said.

The petition by Ranju Gopal Mukhopadhyay said Ms Banerjee is "ineligible" for the degree and the university's decision to award it to her is "arbitrary and devoid of any proper reasoning". Calcutta University, one of India's three oldest Universities, has conferred D.Litts on the likes of Nobel winners Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Roy, the petition said.

It also alleged a lack of clarity on the decision-making process.

The state has argued that Mr Mukhopadhyay's petition is politically motivated and meant only for publicity. The state's advocate general, who appeared in court, said the Calcutta University's authorised bodies, the syndicate and senate, chose the recipient as per rules.

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