Mamata’s petition against Nandigram polls: SC rejects Suvendu plea to transfer the case outside the state
The Supreme Court on Friday asked West Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, who referred to a “letter” written by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in which a Calcutta High Court judge heard her election petition over alleged links with the saffron party. had, it could not be on the ground of accepting their prayer to transfer the matter out of state.
“This is not the basis for our transfer. Whether that judge should have recused himself or not is a separate issue…,” Justice DY Chandrachud, presiding over the two-judge bench, told senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for the officer.
He was responding to Salve’s submission that the officer had a “legitimate apprehension … that he would have serious trouble conducting the case” given the hostile atmosphere in the state. To substantiate his point, Salve referred to Banerjee’s “letter” and subsequent developments that culminated in Justice Kaushik Chanda’s withdrawal from hearing the case.
“The fact that a sitting CM writes a letter saying I opposed the appointment of a judge and he should spare himself and a senior member of parliament sent a tweet saying that this man is for BJP. Used to appear when he was in private practice… These are not two private people who are fighting in court,” Salve told the bench, also comprising Justice Hima Kohli.
Rejecting the transfer request, Justice Chandrachud said, “The election of the then Prime Minister was challenged in the Allahabad High Court.”
Salve responded quickly and said, “I don’t think anyone has ever said that this prime minister has appointed so many judges and that judges shouldn’t listen to it… Today, we have a very different culture and Living in a very different ethos where the Chief Minister writes letters like this… it is a very regrettable situation”.
The officer, in his petition filed through advocate Surjendu Shankar Das, also referred to a letter written by some members of the HC Bar Association against another HC judge, who granted the officer protection from arrest in certain cases registered against him.
Salve said, “My concern today is that the atmosphere you have created is that if a judge passes orders that are contrary to any order, let’s see what happens to that judge.”
But Justice Chandrachud said, “If we allow your transfer petition, we will express the view of lack of confidence in the entire HC… How can we do that? Let the High Courts control their litigation and We should not send the message that we do not trust them…”
Salve replied, “I have 100 percent faith in the HC. The problem is the atmosphere and hostility inside and outside the courtroom, which I know, I am going to face… Will I be able to prosecute there? Will, I Can I defend myself fairly and freely in this environment?”
The court said that the Chief Justice will ensure that the atmosphere is conducive and if anything untoward happens, we have broad shoulders to deal with it.
As Salve repeatedly stated that he had apprehensions, Justice Chandrachud asked, “But what has happened so far? Except that a judge has resigned, nothing is there…”
Salve said, “There are many matters between this gentleman and the state government. Once this begins, in other cases involving the same person, if a judge passes an order in his favor, there is a protest, and the lawyers have passed a resolution stating that you have to send the board to that judge. should be taken away from the one who gave him relief, otherwise, they are going on dharna.”
But the court did not listen and said: “This election petition, we find no reason to move it… We will not allow this option of the High Courts. It is the High Court that has jurisdiction and let the trial be there.” … If the judge feels that the atmosphere of the court is not being created conducive to the trial, the judge himself or herself is sufficiently empowered to ensure that an appropriate environment is created.”
Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for West Bengal, opposed the prayer of the officer and said that he was trying to avoid the entire High Court.
Salve finally sought permission to withdraw the petition which was allowed by the SC.