The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal on Friday alleged that Justice Kausik Chanda, assigned to hear Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s petition challenging the election results of the Nandigram Assembly constituency, has links with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This came a day after the chief minister moved the Calcutta High Court, alleging irregularities in the counting process. Banerjee had lost the Nandigram seat to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes. Adhikari, once a close aide of Banerjee switched sides before the polls, and is now Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly.
The Trinamool Congress shared photos of Justice Chanda with Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh at events organised by the legal cell of the party.
“Unsurprisingly, he’s also the judge who has been assigned to hear the Nandigram case,” the Trinamool Congress tweeted. “As the Indian judiciary system gets murkier day by day, will there be any justice in this case? Only time will tell.”
Party leader Derek O’Brien shared a list of cases where Justice Chanda represented the BJP before the Calcutta High Court from 2012 to 2018. “[Is this] one big coincidence?,” asked O’Brien.
Earlier on Friday, Banerjee’s counsel requested Justice Chanda to schedule the case for hearing next week, PTI reported. The judge deferred the matter to June 24 and said that the chief minister should be present for hearing as it was an election petition.
In her plea, the Trinamool Congress chief accused Adhikari of indulging in corrupt practices, including bribery, promotion of hatred and enmity, seeking votes on the basis of religion and booth capture.
Banerjee has also questioned the decision of the Election Commission to reject her plea for a recount.
The Trinamool Congress, however, secured a landslide victory in the state elections, winning 213 constituencies – way beyond the majority mark of 148 – in the 294-seat Assembly. Banerjee became the chief minister for the third consecutive term.
In May, Banerjee decided to contest the Bhabanipur constituency to get elected to the state Assembly as Article 164(4) of the Constitution says that individuals can take oath as a minister even if they are not MLAs, but will have to get elected within a period of six months after being sworn in.