A Calcutta High Court judge, objecting to the manner in which the Narada bribery case was handled, has put out a sharp critique of his colleagues alleging “unbecoming conduct” in a letter to senior judges. “We have been reduced to a mockery,” Justice Arindam Sinha writes in the letter that has stunned the judiciary.
Justice Sinha alleges that the CBI’s petition asking for the Narada case to be transferred outside Bengal was listed wrongly as a “writ petition” by the Calcutta High Court and therefore marked to a division bench instead of a single judge.
“The High Court must get its act together. Our conduct is unbecoming of the majesty the High Court commands,” Justice Sinha wrote in his letter to acting Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and other judges.
The CBI had filed the petition last week after arresting four Trinamool leaders, including two Bengal ministers. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Bindal had heard the request.
The CBI had asked for the case against the Trinamool leaders to be transferred out of Bengal citing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sit-in protest at the agency’s office. It had also alleged that the state Law Minister went to court with a mob when the accused politicians were to be produced.
Justice Sinha wrote that the CBI’s petition should have been heard by a single judge instead of a division bench. It should not have been treated as a writ petition as there was “no substantial question of law” related to the constitution, he said.
“The mob factor may be a ground on merits for adjudication of the motion but could the first division bench have taken it up and continued to hear it as a writ petition is the first question,” he wrote.
The judge also objected to the division bench passing on the case to a larger bench when the judges disagreed on whether to grant bail to the accused Trinamool leaders, and said the opinion of a third judge should have been taken instead.
A special CBI Court had granted them interim bail but it was put on hold by the division bench of the High Court the same day. Later, when the two judges on the bench disagreed and passed on the decision to a five-judge bench, the leaders were placed on house arrest.
“As such, I am requesting all of us to salvage the situation by taking such steps, including convening a full court, if necessary, for the purpose of reaffirming the sanctity of our rules and our unwritten code of conduct,” Justice Sinha wrote.
He also pointed to a notice issued on May 18 that the division bench “could not assemble that day due to unavoidable circumstances”.
The public, he said, “was presented with the situation of the High Court having interfered with the liberty of their elected representatives”.