Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb asked government officers not to worry about contempt of court as it wasn't easy to send someone to jail because he controlled the police.
Speaking at the biennial conference of Tripura Civil Service Officers' Association, Deb said that a section of officers were citing contempt of court as if it was a tiger, but actually "I am the tiger".
Deb's comment triggered a controversy with opposition parties saying that under his regime, democracy was at stake.
"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 in Rabindra Bhavan on Saturday.
"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 added.
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, who holds the Home portfolio, 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.
The opposition CPI(M) said the chief minister's statement shows he does not respect the judiciary.
"It shows that he doesn't respect the judiciary, one of the important pillars of democracy. Under his regime, democracy is at stake and his statement is the outburst of frustration for failing to deliver," CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chowdhury said.
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? pic.twitter.com/0qEAdBQ54r— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) September 26, 2021
From his claim that internet existed during the "era of Mahabharata" to Punjabis, Jats Physically Strong But Have Less Brains, Deb has often courted controversy with his comments.
(With PTI Inputs)