Justice Sinha alleged that the CBI's plea seeking transfer of the Narada case out of Bengal was wrongly listed before a division bench of two.
A senior sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court has objected to the court’s handling of the Narada case in a letter to senior judges including the Acting Chief Justice. Justice Arindam Sinha raised questions over acting High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal’s intervention in the Narada case in transferring the case to the two-judge bench and staying the bail granted to four TMC leaders by a CBI court. He alleged that the court’s ‘conduct is unbecoming’ of the commands. “The high court must get its act together. Our conduct is unbecoming of the majesty the High Court commands. We have been reduced to a mockery. 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 re-affirming sanctity of our Rules and our unwritten code of conduct,” reported The Indian Express quoting the letter.
Justice Sinha alleged that the CBI’s plea seeking transfer of the Narada case out of Bengal was wrongly listed before a division bench of two instead of a single judge by the High Court.
The judge wrote the letter on May 24, a day after the CBI challenged the division bench’s order directing the house arrest of the TMC leaders in the Supreme Court. The CBI’s move raised a series of questions on the procedural gaps in admitting the CBI’s plea and assigning it to a bench headed by the acting chief justice. “Whether the high court exercising power in the matter of transfer of a criminal case, at that stage, on its own initiative, could have passed the order for stay, is the second question,” the letter questioned.
The two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arjit Banerjee ordered the house arrest of the four TMC leaders on May 21 despite difference in their opinion and referred the matter to a larger five-judge bench. While Justice Banerjee was in favour of granting bail, acting Chief Justice Bindal favoured house arrest.
Justice Sinha also questioned the transfer of the matter to a five-judge bench when normally a third judge is added in case of a split verdict in a division bench.
The CBI had arrested Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA Madan Mitra, and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee on May 17 but were granted bail on the same day by a CBI court. The CBI had then moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the order.