Bar Council of West Bengal chairman Ashok Kumar Deb has written a strongly worded letter to Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, requesting him to remove Calcutta High Court’s Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal. However, on what authority has this letter been written by Deb is not clear, because the issue was not a result of any resolution of the council. It was more a personal letter from the chief of the bar council. Incidentally, Deb is an MLA of the Trinamool Congress.
The letter says, “We, members of the West Bengal Bar Association, are compelled to write this instant letter under urgent and dire circumstances. The Calcutta High Court being the oldest chartered court in the country, has a rich cultural and historical past. Being associated with such an esteemed institution, it pains us greatly to write this letter,” Deb wrote to the CJI in his personal capacity.
The State Bar Council Chairman said, “Our High Court has been shaped up through the impeccable commitment and devotion of the officers of this court, including but not limited to the Judges, Advocates, administrative officers as well as other staff members towards the maintenance of the highest standards of ethics and morality. Any endeavour that may seek to endanger the sanctity of this Court will destroy the sacred fabric of this institution.”
The letter also said that the special CBI Court had granted interim bail to Firhad Hakim and others arrested in the Narada case. However, a Bench led by the Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court dismissed the bail. It has been alleged that his role in the case is not correct. The letter also raised questions about CBI’s application to the High Court.
The letter further stated that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Law Minister Malay Ghatak wanted to give affidavits in a five-Judge Bench of the High Court in Narada case, but their affidavits were not accepted. They later approached the Supreme Court on the matter and the top court later directed the Calcutta High Court to accept the affidavits.
The letter also mentioned the Nandigram case being referred to the Court of Justice Kaushik Chanda. Deb wrote that when the Nandigram case filed by the Chief Minister was listed before the Court of Justice Chanda, an application was made to change the Court. However, Justice Bindal ignored it.
The issue about Justice Chanda was that it was alleged that he had been an active member of the BJP and that identity would hamper his judgement in this politically-sensitive case. Justice Chanda later refuted such allegations and said that he was not going to recuse.
The overall plea before the Court was about two recent precedents of recusal of Supreme Court Judges – Justices Indira Banerjee and Aniruddha Bose, both from Bengal – in cases related to the state.
The Chairman of the state Bar Council also referred to a letter written by Justice Arindam Sinha to the Acting Chief Justice. Justice Sinha had allegedly questioned the role of the High Court in the case.
In its letter, the Bar Council Chairman said that Justice Bindal has consistently done such things since becoming the Acting Chief Justice, which is why this letter had to be written. The Bar Council has also mentioned the cases, which were heard by the Bench of Justice Bindal, on which the Council has objected after the verdict.
Deb also referred to the case in which Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee had filed before the High Court, challenging the victory of Subhendu Adhikari in the Assembly elections from Nandigram. The matter had initially been filed and mentioned before the Single Bench headed by Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, but Justice Bindal later assigned the matter to Justice Kausik Chanda.
It is alleged in the letter that Justice Bindal is responsible for the brewing storm at the Calcutta High Court, and his act of assigning the Nandigram petition to Justice Chanda is devoid of ethics and morality. There are pictures of Justice Bindal visiting the state Governor’s house, which were widely published, said the letter.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has been at loggerheads with the state administration for a long time.
The letter requested: “We request your lordship to take immediate steps for the removal of Justice Rajesh Bindal as judge of Calcutta High Court so that the majesty and sanctity of Calcutta High Court is upheld.”