West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s election petition before the Calcutta High Court challenging BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s victory from Nandigram constituency in the assembly elections has been assigned to the bench of Justice Shampa Sarkar, court sources said here on Monday. The matter is likely to be listed before the court of Justice Sarkar on Wednesday, the sources said.
Justice Kausik Chanda had on July 7 recused from hearing the Trinamool Congress supremo’s petition challenging the election of Adhikari from Nandigram, and imposed a cost of Rs five lakh on her for the manner in which the recusal was sought. Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal assigned the matter to the court of Justice Sarkar.
Adhikari defeated Banerjee from the Nandigram constituency by 1,956 votes in the assembly election held earlier in the year. Releasing the election petition of Banerjee on an application by her for recusal expressing apprehension of bias against her by his bench, Justice Chanda had said that he was doing so in order to thwart at the outset attempts by trouble-mongers to keep the controversy alive.
Banerjee’s lawyers had suggested that Justice Chanda should recuse himself from the case since he was associated with the legal cell of the BJP before his elevation as a Judge and had appeared in a number of cases on behalf of the said party before the high court as a lawyer. Her lawyer had suggested during his submissions before the court that there is a conflict of interest since Justice Chanda had a close relationship with the BJP and the petitioner has challenged the election of a BJP candidate.
In its order, the court had said that it is preposterous to suggest that a judge having a past association with a political party as a lawyer should not receive a case involving the said political party or any of its members. Justice Chanda had noted that like any other citizen of the country, a judge also exercises his voting rights in favour of a political party, but he lays aside his individual predilection while deciding a case.