NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea by BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari seeking transfer of the election petition filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee out of West Bengal.
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said: “We will not allow this choice of high courts. The high court which has jurisdiction…. let it try the matter there.”
It observed that if it were to transfer the petition, it would indicate that the top court is not having faith in the Calcutta High Court. “If we transfer, we would be expressing a view of lack of faith in the entire high court.”
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Adhikari, submitted that the atmosphere in Kolkata was not congenial for the hearing of the election petition.
He added that Chief Minister wrote a letter stating that because she had opposed a particular judge’s appointment, then he should recuse from hearing a connected matter. The top court was informed that judges who had given relief to Adhikari in connected matters had incurred the wrath of the state administration.
However, the bench remarked that the high court should have control over their litigation.
Also informed that a case was filed against a judge who passed orders against the state government, the bench, unmoved with these submissions, said the Chief Justice and the high court judges have enough powers to ensure that congenial atmosphere is maintained during the trial in the election petition. “Their shoulders are broad enough to deal with it,” noted the bench.
Salve submitted that Calcutta High Court judges are also on the receiving end of the government excesses and there is no problem with judges.
The bench remarked that could not form the basis for it to transfer and pointed out that elections of former PMs have been challenged and the Allahabad High Court heard it.
Salve urged the bench to take on record that the Chief Justice would ensure that the security is provided. The bench replied it will be accepting that the atmosphere is not congenial and if witnesses, during the trial, express any apprehension, it can be brought to the notice of the court.
The bench further added that Salve’s client and other witnesses in the trial can approach the judge concerned in connection with the security.
After a detailed hearing, the bench noted that Adhikari seeks to withdraw the transfer petition and granted him liberty to approach the judge concerned of the Calcutta High Court presiding over the trial of the election petition.
In the 2021 Assembly election, Adhikari had defeated Mamata Banerjee by 1,956 votes. In June 2021, Banerjee moved an election petition before the high court seeking a direction to Adhikari’s election from Nandigram be declared null and illegal. Adhikari moved the apex court seeking transfer of the election petition out of West Bengal. — IANS