NEW DELHI: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday sought a change of bench for the hearing of her petition challenging the victory of BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram.
Mamata’s petition, filed in Calcutta high court yesterday, was assigned to Justice Kausik Chanda and has been adjourned till June 24.
In a letter to the secretary of the acting Chief Justice, the chief minister’s counsel expressed apprehension about the likelihood of bias on the part of the judge concerned as Mamata “had objected to the confirmation of the Hon’ble Judge as a Permanent Judge of the Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta.”
Claiming that Mamata Banerjee has been made aware that Justice Kausik Chanda was “an active member of the BJP” and since the adjudication of the election petition will have political ramifications, it has been prayed that the matter be assigned to another judge by the acting Chief Justice, who is the master of roster, the letter stated.
Mamata’s counsel urged that the letter be placed before the acting Chief Justice forthwith “for necessary re-assignment of Election Petition so as to avoid any prejudice and/or presumption of prejudice”.
Mamata Banerjee and her aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari, who quit the Trinamool Congress to join the BJP ahead of the assembly elections, were locked in a keen electoral battle in Nandigram.
Suvendu won the election by a margin of around 2000 votes. However, Mamata had alleged that her requests for recount were turned down by the election official.
See what we found👇Matters where Justice Kaushik Chanda has appeared for the Bharatiya Janata Party before the Cal… https://t.co/QNwXPGdKHx
— Derek O’Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) 1624002374000
Meanwhile, a section of lawyers 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.
Calcutta high court takes up four election petitions by TMC candidates
Meanwhile, following into Mamata’s footsteps, four other Trinamool leaders, who lost the assembly elections, petitioned the Calcutta high court.
Their pleas were heard before four different benches of the high court.
Challenging the election of BJP’s Biswanath Karak from Goghat, TMC candidate Manas Majumdar moved the high court.
Justice Suvra Ghosh, noting the presence of the petitioner in person before the court in virtual mode, directed the issuance of notice to the respondents and fixed the matter for hearing on July 9.
Taking up Shantiram Mahato’s petition against BJP’s Baneswar Mahato, who was declared winner by the EC from Balarampur, Justice Subhasis Dasgupta said the matter will be taken up for hearing on July 15.
The court directed that pending decision in the case, the documents, election papers and devices connected with the polls under challenge be preserved by the concerned authority.
Justice Bibek Chaudhuri, hearing another petition by TMC candidate Alo Rani Sarkar challenging the election of BJP’s Swapan Majumdar from Bongaon Dakshin, said that notice be issued to him within two weeks from the date of this order, asking him to submit affidavit-in-opposition, if any.
The matter will appear in the list on July 16.
Hearing in TMC candidate Sangram Kumar Dolai’s petition challenging the election of Ashoke Dinda from Moyna was adjourned by Justice Tirthankar Ghosh to June 25, when the matter will be taken up for hearing.
(With inputs from PTI)