New Delhi/ Kolkata:
Mamata Banerjee was today fined ₹ 5 lakh by Calcutta High Court judge Kaushik Chanda, who exited a case involving her petition challenging the election of the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari. The Bengal Chief Minister had asked the judge to quit the case over “conflict of interest”.
Before exiting the case, the judge made a series of angry observations, accusing Ms Banerjee of a “preplanned move to malign a judge” and of violating her constitutional duty.
“Such calculative, psychological and offensive attempt to seek recusal need to be firmly repulsed and a cost of ₹ 5 lakh is imposed upon Petitioner,” Justice Chanda said in the order.
Mamata Banerjee wanted the case to be reassigned to a different court as she alleged Justice Chanda has links with the BJP and would be biased. The case will now be referred to Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, who has to reassign it.
In a letter to the Chief Justice on June 16, Ms Banerjee had said that Justice Chanda was associated with the BJP in the past. Her letter said there was “reasonable apprehension of bias… in favour of the respondent (Suvendu Adhikari)…”, who is also from the BJP.
About his past Association with the BJP, Justice Chanda said judges vote and they have a political point of view but “it is wrong on Mamata Banerjee’s part to think that a judge cannot discharge his duty as one just because he votes for one political party or the other”.
Ms Banerjee had also said she feared bias because in April she had objected to Justice Chanda’s confirmation as a permanent judge at Calcutta High Court.
“Justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done,” she added, as she underlined the need to “sustain the confidence of the public in the judiciary”.
Rebutting that point, Justice Chandra said by that yardstick no judge of the Calcutta High Court could hear the petition as the Chief Minister “must have either objected to or confirmed the appointment”.
Ms Banerjee’s petition challenges the election result in Bengal’s Nandigram, where she lost to Suvendu Adhikari, her former aide-turned-BJP leader.
The Nandigram loss was the lone disappointment for the Chief Minister as her Trinamool Congress won a landslide victory in Bengal in the April-May election, retaining power for the second time.
News Source: NDTV News