New Delhi/ Kolkata:
Mamata Banerjee was today fined Rs 5 lakh by Calcutta High Court judge Kaushik Chanda, who exited a case involving her petition challenging the election of the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari. The Bengal Chief Minister had asked the judge to quit the case over “conflict of interest”.
Before exiting the case, the judge made a series of angry observations, accusing Ms Banerjee of a “preplanned move to malign a judge” and of violating her constitutional duty.
“Such calculative, psychological and offensive attempt to seek recusal need to be firmly repulsed and a cost of Rs 5 lakh is imposed upon Petitioner,” Justice Chanda said in the order.
Mamata Banerjee wanted the case to be re-assigned to a different court as she alleged Justice Chanda has links with the BJP and would be biased.
In a letter to the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court on June 16, Ms Banerjee had given two reasons for her request.
Justice Kaushik Chanda was associated with the BJP in the past, Ms Banerjee’s letter said, and therefore there was “reasonable apprehension of bias… in favour of the respondent…”, who is also from the BJP.
Ms Banerjee also said she “reasonably apprehends likelihood of bias” because in April she had objected to Justice Chanda’s confirmation as a permanent judge at Calcutta High Court.
“… it will lead to a situation and perception whereby the Honourable Judge, in adjudicating the matter, may be said to be ‘judge in his own cause’,” the Chief Minister wrote in her letter.
“Justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done,” she added, as she underlined the need to “sustain the confidence of the public in the judiciary”.