Mamata Banerjee was fined ₹ 5 lakh by Calcutta High Court judge Kaushik Chanda, who exited a case involving her petition challenging the election of the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari. The Bengal Chief Minister had asked the judge to quit the case over “conflict of interest”.
Before exiting the case, the judge made a series of angry observations, accusing Ms Banerjee of a “preplanned move to malign a judge” and of violating her constitutional duty. “Such calculative, psychological and offensive attempt to seek recusal need to be firmly repulsed and a cost of ₹ 5 lakh is imposed upon Petitioner,” Justice Chanda said in the order. Mamata Banerjee wanted the case to be reassigned to a different court as she alleged Justice Chanda has links with the BJP and would be biased. The case will now be referred to Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, who has to reassign it. Mamata Banerjee’s counsel had appealed for transfer of the case from Justice Kaushik Chanda’s bench citing bias as they claimed that Justice Chanda has often been seen with BJP leaders. The court took objection to the manner in which the demand for the judge’s recusal was made. “Immediately after June 18 hearing, TMC leaders were ready with my photos and put out tweets of my association with BJP,” observed Justice Chanda.
Earlier, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had sent a letter to the Acting chief justice of the Calcutta high court, mentioning her objection to Justice Chanda’s appointment as a permanent judge over “likelihood of bias”, citing his associations with the BJP during his days as a lawyer.