By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 07, Jul 2021, 17:48 pm IST | UPDATED: 14, Jul 2021, 12:54 pm IST
New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister & TMC Supremo has been slammed with a fine of Rs. 5 Lakhs by the Calcutta High Court for the calculated manner in which she sought the recusal of Justice Kausik Chanda.
The Calcutta High Court judge, however on his own personal discretion, decided to step away from hearing the election petition filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee challenging the election of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from the Nandigram constituency in the 2021 assembly elections.
Justice Chanda said that when the case first came to him on June 18th, there was no request for his recusal. He further stated that after the hearing, leaders of TMC were ready with his photos and details of his association with BJP and put out a number of tweets to that effect.
According to Justice Chanda, a judge, like any other person, exercises his right to vote and has political preferences. A judge's previous relationship with a political figure cannot be construed as evidence of prejudice. Accepting such a petition will result in bench hunting.
He said, “I have no personal inclination to hear out petitioner's case. I have no hesitation in taking up this case either. It is my constitutional duty to hear out a case assigned to me by the Chief Justice.”
Justice Chanda had reportedly asked Banerjee’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi why the recusal was not mentioned earlier in court. He said he did not deem it fit.
He further added, “A deliberate and absolute attempt was made to affect my decision even before the case was heard. If a person appears for a political party, it is uncommon but he lays aside his bias while hearing a case. It is preposterous to suggest that a judge who has an association with a political party for a case. A judge cannot be seen to be bias because to the litigant's view.”
Justice Chanda also noted that a plea was made before the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Calcutta High Court, Rajesh Bindal seeking reassignment of Banerjee's case to some other judge.
The fine has to be deposited within two weeks and the money will be provided to the families of lawyers who have succumbed to COVID-19, the Court said.
Mamata Banerjee accused former TMC confidante Suvendu Adhikary of corruption and violation of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Adhikary had reportedly beat the TMC leader by less than 2000 votes in the recently conducted assembly elections. Mamata Banerjee alleged discrepancies of counting in Nandigram as she was defeated by 1,956 votes. The Returning Officer turned down her request of recounting the votes.
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