Cal HC judge 'questions' procedure adopted in listing of Narada bail case

·4-min read

Kolkata, May 28 (PTI) A judge of the Calcutta High Court in a purported letter to the Acting Chief Justice and other judges raised questions on the procedure adopted in the listing of the Narada bail case and said the court has been reduced to 'a mockery'.

According to the legal news portal Bar and Bench, Justice Arindam Sinha of the Calcutta High Court in his letter dated May 24 has said the courts 'conduct is unbecoming of the majesty the High Court commands' and said it should get its act together.

The news portal has put up an unsigned copy of the letter on its site.

The judge, who is not part of the five-judge bench hearing the Narada sting tapes case, purportedly wrote that while the appellate side rules require a motion for transfer, either on the civil or criminal side, to be heard by a single judge, the first division bench of the high court took up the matter pertaining to CBI versus the four accused as a writ petition.

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan also tweeted a text of the purported letter and termed it bold.

'We have been reduced to a mockery. As such I am requesting all of us to salvage the situation by taking such steps, including convening a Full Court, if necessary, for the purpose of re-affirming sanctity of our rules and our unwritten code of conduct,' the letter said.

The investigating agency has sought transfer of the Narada sting tape case from a special CBI court here to the high court, which had ordered a probe into the matter by the CBI in March, 2017.

'The communication could not have been treated as such a writ petition simply because no substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution has been raised,' the judge purportedly wrote.

Officials of the office of the acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court was not available for comment.

A division bench of the high court, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee stayed the bail granted by the special CBI court after hearing the CBI on an email communication by the agency claiming that situation arising out of alleged mob protests that prevented them from producing the accused before the court following their arrest.

Seeking transfer of the case from the special court, the CBI had claimed that all the four persons arrested are very influential persons and it apprehends that they will influence/threaten the witnesses and the system.

'Their influence could be ascertained by the conduct of the Hon'ble Chief Minister, Hon'ble Law Minister, other Hon'ble Ministers and other eminent elected representatives, and the conduct of the mob at CBI Office and court premises on 17.05.2021,' the CBI said in its petition.

Ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI on May 17 in connection with the Narada sting tape case.

'The mob factor may be a ground on merits, for adjudication of the motion, but could the first Division Bench have taken it up and continue to hear it as a writ petition?' the judge questioned in his letter.

Differing on a recall application by the four accused of the stay order on their bail, the junior judge of the division bench favoured granting interim bail, while the Acting Chief Justice wanted that they be put under house arrest.

The bench passed an order on May 21 putting the four accused under house arrest from judicial remand and referred the matter to a larger bench of five judges.

The judge wrote in his letter that 'when the judges in a Division Bench differ on any point or issue, same is referred to a third learned Judge for opinion,' he said.

The judge also wrote that the Full Court should include consideration as to whether by citing the Covid, the judges can stop coming to the court and conduct its business from wherever they are.

The high court is at present hearing matters in the virtual mode in view of the Covid pandemic situation in the state. PTI AMR JRC NN NN