Calcutta HC judge Kaushik Chanda recuses from hearing Mamata's Nandigram plea, fines CM
Kolkata/IBNS/UNI: Calcutta High Court judge Kaushik Chanda on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the plea filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has challenged the Nandigram election result that had favoured her opponent Suvendu Adhikari.
Justice Chanda has recused himself in response to Banerjee's filing of a petition seeking his recuse over the "conflict of interest".
Justice Chanda, who was earlier associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was seen with various leaders of the party, to which Adhikari belongs.
However, the court has fined the Chief Minister Rs. five lakh for seeking the recusal.
Justice Chandra said the penalty money of Rs 5 lakh will have to be deposited to the Calcutta High Court Bar Council Association account and it will be spent for the welfare of the members of the association affected by Covid-19.
“If a person appears for a political party, it is uncommon but he lays aside his bias while hearing a case. In this case, pecuniary interest does not arise,” said Justice Chanda during the hearing and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner.
“Banerjee is painting the judiciary in a bad light,” he said.
“A deliberate and absolute attempt was made to affect my decision even before the case was heard.
“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 biased because of the litigant's view,” the judge said.
According to the Bar and Bench, Justice Chanda had served as the Additional Solicitor General for the BJP government before he was elevated to the Calcutta HC bench.
The court took objection to the manner in which the demand for the judge’s recusal was made.
“Immediately after June 18 hearing, TMC leaders were ready with my photos and put out tweets of my association with BJP,” observed Justice Chanda.
Citing the fine imposed on Banerjee, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted, "Fine of 5 lakh imposed by the Calcutta HC on Mamata Banerjee for showing the judiciary in poor light is a small sum, given the potential of her actions and utterances to cause erosion of trust of the common man in our institutions. She had similarly maligned EC during elections."
Fine of 5 lakh imposed by the Calcutta HC on Mamata Banerjee for showing the judiciary in poor light is a small sum, given the potential of her actions and utterances to cause erosion of trust of the common man in our institutions. She had similarly maligned EC during elections.— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 7, 2021
After a close contest between the two heavyweights in the high profile Nandigram Assembly constituency, Banerjee lost to her confidante-turned opponent Suvendu Adhikari, who was a BJP candidate, by a margin of over 1,900 votes.
Banerjee had trailed Adhikari for 11 rounds but the trend changed in the next four, with margins ranging from six to 11,000. Adhikari gained in the final rounds and was declared winner.
The controversy erupted mainly after Banerjee was declared winner initially in media reports, but later, it was reported the counting was on and Adhikari was finally announced winner.