ALCUTTA High Court judge, Justice Kausik Chanda Wednesday chose to recuse himself from hearing the election petition filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee challenging the election of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from the Nandigram constituency in the 2021 assembly elections.
The announcement of the recusal came soon after the judge imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on CM Banerjee for the manner in which she had sought it.
“I have no personal inclination to hear out the case of the petitioner. I had no hesitation in taking up the case, either. It is my constitutional obligation and duty to hear out a case assigned to me by the Hon’ble Chief Justice neutrally and dispassionately. I have, however, decided to recuse myself from this case for a different reason”, Justice Chanda said.
He added since the two persons involved in this case belong to the highest echelon of state politics, in the name of saving the judiciary, some opportunists have already emerged.
“These trouble-mongers will try to keep the controversy alive and create newer controversies. The trial of the case before this Bench will be a tool to aggrandise themselves”, Justice Chanda said.
Referring to social media posts about his association with the BJP when he was a lawyer, Justice Chanda said “The script was already prepared; the dramatis personae were ready to launch a well-rehearsed drama outside the Court”
“…A deliberate and conscious attempt was made to influence my decision before the recusal application was placed before me for judicial consideration on June 24, 2021. The calculated psychological offensive and vilification adopted to seek recusal need to be firmly repulsed, and a cost of rupees five lakh is imposed upon the petitioner..”, the judge said.
Banerjee sought Justice Chanda’s recusal on the grounds that the latter was not just associated with the BJP but also had a close, personal, professional and ideological relationship with the party. She pointed out that as chief minister she had opposed his appointment as a permanent judge in the high court and asserted that she didn’t want somebody who was “an active member of the BJP” to decide her election petition.
Rejecting the argument of Banerjee, Justice Chanda said “her objection against my confirmation as a permanent Judge of this Court is known to me. In my view, such ground also cannot justify recusal”.
“The petitioner cannot seek recusal based upon her own consent or objection with regard to the appointment of a Judge. A Judge cannot be said to be biased because of a litigant’s own perception and action. It is ludicrous to believe that the petitioner would expect a favourable order 8 from a Judge whose appointment she has consented to and vice versa”, Justice Chanda held.
Justice Chanda went on to state that if such an argument was accepted, the election petition could not be tried since the petitioner, in her capacity as the Chief Minister of the State, had either objected or given consent to the appointments of most of the judges in the court.
The judge eventually decided to release the case from his court.