West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s advocate has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court requesting that the hearing of ‘Nandigram recounting case’, which is currently in the single bench of Justice Kaushik Chanda should be re-assigned to another bench ‘in order to avoid any prejudice as Justice Chanda was an active BJP member’.
Mamata has moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the Assembly election result in Nandigram where BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari emerged as a winner. She alleged possibilities of tampering of EVM machines and suspected foul play behind counting of votes for Nandigram seat.
In her petition, Mamata accused Suvendu Adhikari of committing corrupt practises as mentioned under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. She had demanded a recounting before the Election Commission but her plea was turned down. Later, she approached the Calcutta High Court and the matter was put up for hearing on Friday.
However, the single bench of Justice Kaushik Chanda adjourned the hearing to June 24. “Let the matter be listed next Thursday (on June 24),” Justice Chanda said after asking the petitioner’s lawyer to serve copies of the election petition to the opposite parties.
Justice Chanda also said that Mamata Banerjee is required to be present on the first day of the hearing as it was an election petition.
Mamata Banerjee ‘apprehended that there could be biased judgement in the bench of Justice Kaushik Chanda’ and wrote a letter to the Chief Justice’s secretary requesting that the hearing should be re-assigned from the bench of Justice Kaushik Chanda to another bench.
“My client had received a letter from the Chief Justice of this Court for confirmation of Justice Kaushik Chanda as a Permanent Judge of this Court. My client had objected to the confirmation of the Judge as a Permanent Judge of the High Court at Calcutta. 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 client about the likelihood of bias on the part of the Hon’ble Judge,” excerpts from Mamata’s lawyer’s letter read.
“My client has filed the Election Petition challenging the election of Suvendu Adhikari, a member of BJP. The adjudication of the Election Petition shall also have political ramifications. My client has been made aware that the Hon’ble Justice Kaushik Chanda was an active member of the BJP. Thus, in the event the Hon’ble Judge takes up the Election Petition there will be a reasonable apprehension in my client’s mind of bias on the part of the Hon’ble Judge of the respondent and/or against my client,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress party tweeted, “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. As the Indian Judiciary system gets murkier day by day, will there be any justice in this case? Only time will tell.”
TMC MP Derek O’Brien also tweeted, “Who is that person ‘circled’ in both pics? Is he Justice Kaushik Chanda of Calcutta High Court? Has he been assigned to hear the Nandigram election case? Can the judiciary sink any lower?
BJP state vice-president, Joy Prakash Majumdar, condemned TMC’s letter requesting to change the bench. He said, “It is unfortunate that the ruling party in Bengal is behaving in such a manner. They should respect the judiciary. I also condemned the tweet of TMC MP Derek O’Brien.”