Calcutta High Court judge Justice Kausik Chanda on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the election petition filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee challenging the election of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram in recently concluded state assembly elections. He is the third judge hailing from West Bengal to recuse himself from cases involving the TMC.
Earlier, Supreme Court judge Justice Aniruddha Bose recused himself from hearing the appeal by the West Bengal government in the Narada scam hearing. Prior to him, Justice Indira Banerjee had recused herself from hearing a petition, which sought for an independent SIT/CBI probe in the killing of two BJP workers in West Bengal.
However, Justice Chanda has imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which application for his recusal was moved.
Justice Chanda said that when the case had first come up before him on June 18, no request was made for his recusal. However, after the hearing, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) party leaders shared photos and details of his alleged association with BJP and put out a number of tweets to that effect. Subsequently, a plea was made before the Chief Justice on the administrative side for reallocation of the case.
He said that every person has political inclination and it is preposterous to think that a judge will not be able to do his duty without sense of detachment. Justice Chanda said that the applicant has taken too sombre a view of integrity of judge and that he is unable to convince himself that there is a conflict of interest.
Justice Chanda said that while he has no personal inclination to hear out the petitioner’s case, he also does not mind hearing it out as it is his constitutional duty to hear out cases assigned to him by the Chief Justice. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sought his recusal from the case on the ground that he was an active member of the Bharatiya Janata Party before he became a judge of the Calcutta High Court. On Wednesday, he said that he would like to recuse himself from the case.
“The aforesaid chronology of events clearly suggest that a deliberate and conscious attempt was made to influence my decision before the recusal application was placed before the court for judicial consideration on . The calculated psychological offensive and vilification for recusal need to be firmly repulsed and a costs of Rs. 5 lakh is imposed upon the petitioner,” the court ordered. The costs shall be deposited with the Bar Council of West Bengal within two weeks same shall be used for families of lawyers who have succumbed to COVID-19.
“Since the two persons involved in this case belong to the highest echelons of the State politics, in the name of shaming the judiciary, some opportunists have already emerged. These trouble mongers will try to keep the controversy alive and create newer controversies. The trial of the case before this Bench will be a tool for them. It will be contrary to the interest of justice if such unwarranted problems continue. The hearing of the case should proceed seamlessly like any other litigation before this court,” the court said.
SC Judges Aniruddha Bose and Indrani Banerjee recuse themselves from case related to TMC leaders
On June 22, 2021, Justice Aniruddha Bose recused himself from hearing the appeal by the West Bengal government challenging the June 9 order of the Calcutta High Court on Narada sting. The High Court had refused to take her and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak’s reply affidavits on record in the transfer petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In its June 9 order, the High Court said, “They (CM, law minister, and state) have waited for the arguments in the case to be substantially completed before seeking to place on record their pleadings in response.”
Prior to that, on June 11, 2021, Justice Indira Banerjee had recused herself from hearing a petition, which sought for an independent SIT/CBI probe in the killing of two BJP workers in West Bengal. The petition was filed by Biswajit Sarkar, the brother of deceased Avijit Sarkar who was killed by Trinamool Congress goons. The plea came up before a 2-Judge Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah.
Both the judges, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Indira Banerjee hail from West Bengal.