Mamata's counsel seeks reassignment of election petition against Suvendu to another bench

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(Eds: With more inputs, reax) Kolkata, Jun 18 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's counsel Friday wrote to the secretary of the Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, seeking reassignment of her petition challenging the election of BJP's Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram, to another bench.

Alleging that Justice Kaushik Chanda, who is hearing Banerjee's plea, 'was an active member of the BJP', the letter said that since the adjudication of the election petition will have political ramifications, the matter should be assigned to another judge by the Acting Chief Justice, who is a master of the roster.

The CM's lawyer also stated in the letter that she 'had objected to the confirmation of the Hon'ble Judge as a Permanent Judge of the Hon'ble High Court at Calcutta' and, as such, apprehends there is a likelihood of bias on the part of the judge concerned.

Banerjee's counsel urged that the letter be placed before the Acting Chief Justice forthwith 'for necessary reassignment of Election Petition so as to avoid any prejudice and/or presumption of prejudice'.

Justice Chanda earlier in the day adjourned till June 24 Banerjee's petition for declaring the election of Suvendu Adhikari, at present the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, from Nandigram null and void.

Meanwhile, the ruling TMC, on its official Twitter handle, shared a purported photograph of Chanda sharing the dais with state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.

PTI could not independently verify the authenticity of the picture.

TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said the judge should be shifted from the case.

The party's Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra, too, tweeted on the issue.

The BJP, however, said the judiciary should be respected.

'I share the stage with a lot of people. What is the harm if he had shared the dais with us when he was a lawyer? Now, he is a judge. We should respect the judiciary,' Ghosh said.

A section of lawyers also staged a protest in front of the high court over Justice Chanda being assigned to hear the election petition by the Trinamool Congress supremo.

'We have no personal ill-feeling or allegation against the judge, but he was associated with a particular political party,' one of the lawyers said.

The judge should recuse himself from hearing Banerjee's plea, he added. PTI AMR PNT RBT RBT

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