Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal won with a thumping majority in the elections that took place in the year 2021. One would expect TMC to raise hell had they lost, but it seems that Mamata Banerjee is hell-bent on doubting the electoral process even after a victory. Only recently, Mamata Banerjee had filed a petition in the court demanding that the Nandigram results be re-evaluated.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fired off a letter to the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Rajesh Bindal objecting to the listing of her petition before Justice Kaushik Chanda. The petition pertains to the re-evaluation of the voting results in the Nandigram constituency, where she lost elections to her rival Suvendu Adhikari.
The counsel for the West Bengal CM, Sanjay Basu, claimed, “My client has the utmost faith in the Judicial system and the Majesty of this Court, however, there is a reasonable apprehension in the mind of my about the likelihood of bias on the part of the Honorable Judge for the following reasons.” The letter alleged that Justice Kaushik Chanda was an ‘active member of BJP’ and that the petition of Mamata Banerjee will have political ramifications. Basu urged the Court to reassign the case to another Judge to resolve the apprehension of bias against the West Bengal CM.
“Further, Justice Kaushik Chanda is yet to be confirmed as a permanent Judge of Calcutta High Court. My client’s (CM Banerjee) views were sought by the Chief Justice on the confirmation of Justice Chanda as a permanent Judge of the HC. My Client had conveyed her objections and reservations to such confirmation,” the letter added. Sanjay Basu said that the case ought to be reassigned to ensure public confidence in the Judiciary so that it did not appear that Justice Kaushik Chanda was a ‘Judge in his own case.’
TMC casts aspersions on the credibility of the Judge
During the hearing on Friday (June 18), Justice Kaushik Chanda fixed the date of the hearing to June 24 and directed the Chief Minister to be present. The Court had also sought information on whether the petition filed by Mamata Banerjee was in line with the Representation of People Act. Meanwhile, the official Twitter handle of the Trinamool Congress had shared two pictures of the Judge with BJP leader Dilip Ghosh.
Justice Kaushik Chanda is seen sharing a stage with BJP’s @DilipGhoshBJP. Unsurprisingly, he’s also the judge who has been assigned to hear the #Nandigram case.— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) June 18, 2021
As the Indian Judiciary system gets murkier day by day, will there be any justice in this case? Only time will tell. pic.twitter.com/eE0W8pzbfw
“Justice Kaushik Chanda is seen sharing a stage with BJP’s Dilip Ghosh. Unsurprisingly, he’s also the judge who has been assigned to hear the Nandigram case. As the Indian Judiciary system gets murkier day by day, will there be any justice in this case? Only time will tell,” the tweet read. TMC leader Derek O’ Brien had also highlighted 10 cases wherein Justice Chanda allegedly represented the BJP.
“See what we found. Matters where Justice Kaushik Chanda has appeared for the Bharatiya Janata Party before the Calcutta High Court. And now he has been assigned to hear the Nandigram election case. One big coincidence?” the tweet by Derek O’ Brien pointed out.
See what we found👇— Derek O’Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) June 18, 2021
Matters where Justice Kaushik Chanda has appeared for the Bharatiya Janata Party before the Calcutta High Court.
And now he has been assigned to hear the Nandigram election case.
One big coincidence? pic.twitter.com/RGsHkb9Zw1
At the same time, TMC State General Secretary Kunal Ghosh claimed, “We have full faith in the judiciary… We don’t question Justice Chanda’s competency… but it raises questions regarding his neutrality.”
Interestingly, the TMC seems to not understand that before being the Judge, Kaushik Chanda was a senior advocate at the Calcutta High Court. If he had represented BJP in any matter, he did so in his capacity as a lawyer. After becoming a Judge, for a party to target him because of the cases he took up as an advocate reeks of either ignorance, malice, or both.
BJP rubbishes claims levelled by Mamata Banerjee
Dilip Ghosh, BJP West Bengal Chief and MP, pointed out, “Being a senior advocate at the Calcutta High Court, he was invited, and he attended programmes of our legal cell. I am not sure about the date, but it may be around 2015. What is wrong with it? Thereafter, he became the Additional Solicitor General. Being a senior advocate, he may have represented our party in cases. What is wrong with that? There are many advocates who attend programmes of political parties and fight cases.” He added that questioning his ‘neutrality’ as a Judge was wrong.
Ghosh emphasised, “Does this mean that a senior advocate can never be a Judge. The Speaker in the State Assembly is from Trinamool Congress, but we respect him for his position and neutrality.” BJP State legal cell President Partha Ghosh said that he was unsure whether the tweeted photograph was original or not. He refused to comment until the pictures are authenticated. Member of the legal cell, Priyanka Tibrewal, added that Justice Kaushik Chanda was never in the party or held any post within the BJP.
CPIM hits out at TMC for questioning the ‘neutrality’ of Calcutta High Court judge
While speaking about the matter, advocate and senior Communist Party MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya stated, “When one becomes a Judge, he has to take oath under the Constitution. The point is not what cases he fought as an advocate, but his role as a Judge. No one should question the neutrality of the Judge.”
It must be pointed out that Justice Chanda graduated from law college in 1997 and registered as an advocate on December 18, 1998. He was assigned the designation of ‘senior advocate’ on June 10, 2014. Between April 2015 and September 2019, Justice Satish Chanda served as the Additional Solicitor General of India. Thereafter, he was elevated to the Calcutta High Court as an Additional Judge on October 1, 2019.