The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal has raised objection to the Calcutta High Court judge who is to hear Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's plea challenging the result of the Nandigram constituency in the recently concluded West Bengal Assembly elections.
Banerjee who contested from Nandigram against the Bharatiya Janata Party's Suvendu Adhikari, lost narrowly to the latter by a slim margin of 1,200 votes, as the counting process saw several twists and turns.
Calcutta HC Judge Was Member of BJP: TMC
The TMC has alleged that the judge in question, Justice Kaushik Chanda, has been a member of the BJP and has attended several programmes organised by the saffron party in Bengal.
Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien took to Twitter to share pictures from a BJP event of which Justice Chanda was allegedly a part.
In a subsequent tweet, O'Brien produced a document that listed matters where Justice Chanda had allegedly "appeared for the Bharatiya Janata Party before the Calcutta High Court."
He further asked if it was indeed a "coincidence" that Justice Chanda was hearing the Nandigram case too.
Thereafter, Mamata Banerjee’s advocate wrote to the Chief Justice of Calcutta HC asking for the case to be re-assigned to another bench.
"Sometime in April 2021, my client had received a letter from the Hon'ble Chief Justice of his Hon'ble Court for confirmation of Hon'ble Justice Kaushik Chanda as a Permanent Judge of this Hon'ble Court. My client has objected to the confirmation of the Hon'ble Judge as Permanent Judge of the Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta", said the advocate's letter.
The advocate further stated that Banerjee, his client, was apprehensive that Justice Chanda may know of her apprehension and that there may be a bias against her for the same. Justice Chanda is yet to be made a permanent judge of the Calcutta HC.
The letter further said that Banerjee had been "made aware" of the fact that Justice Chanda was an "active member of the BJP".
Calcutta HC Defers Hearing in Nandigram Case
On Friday, 18 June, the Calcutta HC deferred the hearing of Banerjee’s plea challenging the Nandigram result. The plea will now be heard on Thursday, 24 June.
No reason was offered by the court for the same. Banerjee had filed her plea on 17 June.
A section of lawyers from the Calcutta HC also registered their protest outside the court on the case being assigned to Justice Chanda.
The lawyers demonstrated with black masks and posters that said "Don't do politics with the judiciary."
Reports also state that Chand, who was allegedly a part of the BJP's legal cell, has in the past fought cases for the saffron party in the Calcutta HC. He was also reportedly Additional Solicitor General on behalf of the BJP-run central government in HC.
(With inputs from Anandabazar Patrika)
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