Justice Kausik Chanda of Calcutta HC recuses from hearing Mamata Banerjee Election Petition

Shivangi Prakash –

The Calcutta High Court’s Justice Kausik Chanda has recused himself from hearing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s challenge to the Nandigram election results, in which she was beaten by the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikary in the 2021 Assembly Elections.

He has, however, fined Mamata Banerjee Rs 5 lakhs for the way in which the recusal application was filed.

Justice Chanda stated in his order issued this morning that everyone has political tendencies and that it was absurd to believe that a judge would be unable to do his duties without a sense of detachment.

Chanda observed, “I am unable to convince myself that there is a conflict of interest. The applicant has taken too somber a view of the integrity of a Judge. I have no personal inclination to hear out Petitioner’s case. I have no hesitation in taking up this case either. It is my Constitutional duty to hear out a case assigned to me by the Chief Justice” 

Justice Chanda stated in his judgement that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee presumed he was aware of her opposition to his appointment as a permanent judge. This kind of ground is irrelevant.

“Petitioner cannot seek recusal based on her own consent or objection with regard to appointment of a Judge. A Judge cannot be said to be biased because of a litigant’s own personal action. If the petitioner’s argument regarding her objection to my appointment is accepted then her election petition cannot be tried before this Court since as CM, she has either object or consented to the appointment of most of the Judges’’, he observed.

Mamata Banerjee’s decision to make public “very secret information” about her decision to choose a judge drew Justice Chanda’s ire. Mamata Banerjee expressed her opposition to Justice Chanda becoming a permanent judge in a letter to the Acting Chief Justice.

In this context, Justice Chanda observed “The Chief Minister has an oath to maintain the secrecy of such information”.

Banerjee had objected to Justice Kaushik hearing her appeal, claiming that his “likelihood of bias” stemmed from his past affiliations with the BJP as a lawyer.

On June 24, Senior Advocate Dr. AM Singhvi argued for Banerjee, claiming that Justice Chanda’s “close, personal, professional, financial, and ideological affiliation” with the BJP creates an obvious conflict of interest.

During the hearing, Justice Chanda inquired if it would appear that he was giving in because a “media trial” had already begun.

Singhvi had stated that public opinion had no bearing on a judicial decision.

Read more: Justice Kausik Chanda reserves order on Mamata Banerjee application seeking his recusal

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