The Calcutta high court on Wednesday imposed a penalty of ₹5 lakh on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for seeking recusal of Justice Kaushik Chanda from her Nandigram election petition over the judge's alleged links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The application of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo was rejected by Justice Chanda himself. He, however, decided to step away from the case on his own personal discretion and released the case from his bench, said those familiar with the development.
Mamata Banerjee is facing a fine of ₹5 lakh for painting the judiciary "in a bad light", the court order said. The amount paid in penalties by the West Bengal CM will be used for the families of lawyers affected by Covid-19, said the Calcutta high court.
Justice Kaushik Chanda said that he is unable to convince himself that there is a "conflict of interest". However, he still recused himself from the case so that "trouble-mongers" don't get an opportunity to keep the controversy alive. "It will be contrary to the interests of justice if such unwarranted problem continues along with trial," said Justice Chanda while stepping away from the case.
Earlier, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had sent a letter to the Acting chief justice of the Calcutta high court, mentioning her objection to Justice Chanda's appointment as a permanent judge over "likelihood of bias", citing his associations with the BJP during his days as a lawyer.