KOLKATA: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Thursday made an appearance during the virtual hearing of her petition challenging BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s poll victory in Nandigram and sought the recusal of Calcutta HC’s Justice Kaushik Chanda, before whom the matter was listed, for his “connection” with the saffron camp.
Banerjee’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi mentioned about media reports and photographs showing Chanda’s connection with the BJP. Responding to that, the judge asked if he won’t be giving in to media trial by recusing from the case. He, however, reserved his order on her plea. Mamata was required to be present before the court as per a requirement under the Representation of the People Act.
Earlier, Mamata had written to the acting chief justice to reassign her petition challenging Adhikari’s win, saying Chanda was an active member of the BJP. Later, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien’s tweeted a photograph showing Chanda sharing stage with BJP’s Dilip Ghosh at an event. The picture was taken when Chanda was additional solicitor general of the eastern region.
Submitting that Justice Chanda had an “ideological, pecuniary, personal and professional” relationship with the BJP, Singhvi said, “Your Lordship will only be elevating your stature by recusing from hearing the petition.” The judge responded that during his appearances for the BJP as a lawyer, the party was a relatively unknown entity in the state and the judge before whom he was appearing was not even aware about the party.
Justice Chanda questioned why the ‘conflict of interest’ issue was not raised when the matter first came up before him. Referring to Mamata’s letter to the acting CJ, he said, “…The practice is to approach the judge first on judicial side. But you approached (the) administrative side first.”