IN an unprecedented move, Justice Arindam Sinha, a sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court, has written a letter to the Acting Chief Justice of his high court with a copy marked to all the judges of the high court, raising procedural lapses on the part of the acting chief justice’s led the bench intervening in the Narada sting case on May 17 to stay the bail granted to the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Madan Mitra, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee.
“The Appellate side rules require a motion seeking transfer, either on the civil or criminal side, to be heard by a single Judge. However, the first division bench took up the matter treating it to be a writ petition, ” Justice Sinha pointed out.
He went on to state that even if the letter sent by the CBI on May 17 could be treated as a writ petition, this could not have been and was not treated as a PIL.
Even a writ petition under Article 228 should have gone to the learned single judge having the determination, Justice Sinha wrote.
Justice Sinha highlighted that the accused had obtained bail from the designated court. However, on the intervention of the high court, they have deprived of their liberty even though there was no application on the record of the court since the CBI letter was not supported by affidavit, mandated by Section 407(3) of the CrPC.
The judge also took objection to the reference of the matter to a bench of five judges after the judges on the division bench differed in their opinion.
“When the judges on a division bench differ on any point or issue, the same is referred to a third learned judge for opinion. In the premises, Rule 1 in Chapter II of Appellate Side Rules do not apply Chapter VII provides for references to a Full Bench. Such references arise when the view taken by a division bench is inconsistent with the view taken by another division bench,” Justice Sinha stated.
The high court must get its act together, he said. “Our conduct is unbecoming of the majesty the high court commands. We have been reduced to a mockery”.
To salvage the situation, the judge suggested certain steps be taken, including convening a full-court, if necessary, for the purpose of reaffirming the sanity of our rules and our unwritten code of conduct
“It should include consideration as to whether by citing Covid19, we can stop coming to court and conduct its business from wherever we are, our court being a court of record within the meaning of article 215 of the Constitution”, he said.
Meanwhile, the five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court today granted interim bail to four arrested TMC leaders.