Bar Council of West Bengal writes to CJI seeking the removal of Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court

Published : June 28, 2021 19:43 IST

Calcutta High Court. Photo: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

The Bar Council of West Bengal has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) seeking the removal of Justice Rajesh Bindal, the Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. The letter, written by advocate Ashok Kumar Deb, chairman of the Bar Council of West Bengal and Trinamool MLA, alleged that there had been “instances which has given rise to a perception that Hon’ble Justice Bindal is an unfair, partial and biased judge and whose continuance at the Hon’ble High Court interferes with the fair and impartial dispensation of justice”.

In his letter, Deb, a five-time Trinamool MLA from Budge Budge in the South 24 Parganas district, referred to several “instances” to highlight his allegations, the first and foremost being the “Narada bail matter” in which Justice Bindal had stayed an interim order of bail passed a Special CBI [Central Bureau of Investigations] Court on May 17 in favour of Trinamool Ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, MLA Madan Mitra and former Trinamool leader Sovan Chatterjee. The letter said the way he dealt with the case cast “serious doubts over the conduct and character of Hon’ble Justice Bindal,” and indicated that he “does not have any regard for judicial propriety and has committed a mockery of the judicial conscience”. The letter pointed out that the five-judge Bench headed by Justice Bindal allowed repeated requests by the CBI to file affidavits, but declined the requests made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Minister Moloy Ghatak to file affidavits and contest the matter where “serious allegations” had been made against them was “a clear sign of Hon’ble Justice Bindal’s apparent bias”.

The letter also attacked the manner in which the Acting Chief Justice “assigns different determinations to the judges of the Calcutta High Court,” describing it as absurd and inane. Referring to the case in which Mamata Banerjee challenged the victory of Suvendu Adhikari in the recently-concluded Assembly elections, Deb wrote that the case, which was supposed to have been heard by Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, was “snatched away” by Justice Bindal and assigned to Justice Kausik Chanda, who, according to Deb, “has longstanding association with the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party]”. “Any reasonable person having a basic sense of ethics and morality would not have done something so ludicrous,” wrote Deb. The Trinamool MLA also claimed that “vide various social media posts an impression is sought to be given that Hon’ble Justice Bindal is BJP’s man through and through”.

The letter said: “We beseech your Lordship to take immediate steps for removal of Hon’ble Justice Rajesh Bindal as a Judge of Calcutta High Court so that the majesty and sanctity of the Calcutta High Court is upheld and to ensure people’s confidence in the judiciary does not fall to pieces.” Deb wrote that unless steps were taken to remove Justice Bindal, “we will be mute spectators to the continuous travesty of justice at the hands of a prejudiced, biased, and skewed judge and justice will be denied to the unguarded citizens of this great nation”.

Reacting to the letter, Amit Malviya, head of the Information Technology wing of the BJP, posted on social media: “Just because Calcutta High Court is holding the Mamata Banerjee administration to account for the post poll violence, the CM is using Ashok Kumar Deb, TMC MLA from Budge Budge, under the garb of Bar Council to seek removal of acting Chief Justice. Bid to browbeat judiciary? Reasons for seeking Calcutta High Court CJ’s removal are political: 1) Assigning Nandigram matter to Justice Kaushik Chandra 2) Stay on bail to Firhad Hakim and others in Narada case and more. TMC MLA could have simply said that Mamata Banerjee wants to fix the HC roster.…” Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, the eminent lawyer and Rajya Sabha member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), also criticised Deb for writing an “obnoxious letter”. “His letter amounts to interference with the administration of justice,” Bhattacharya reportedly said.