After Trying To Tame CBI And ED, Trinamool Now Targets Judiciary, Wants Judges To Bend To Its Will

After Trying To Tame CBI And ED, Trinamool Now Targets Judiciary

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 10, 2023 12:45 PM +05:30 IST
After Trying To Tame CBI And ED, Trinamool Now Targets JudiciaryJustice Rajasekhar Mantha and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee

The higher judiciary, which sent some senior Trinamool Congress leaders to prison and restrained the state police from acting in a biased manner, has become the target of a blatant browbeating attempt by the ruling party. 

Calcutta High Court witnessed unprecedented scenes Monday (9 January) when lawyers reportedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool blocked the entrance to Justice Rajasekhar Mantha’s court and engaged in ugly brawls to prevent other lawyers from entering the courtroom.

See the video embedded in this tweet

The lawlessness in the seat of justice was preceded by another unprecedented act: hundreds of posters bearing Justice Mantha’s image and calling him a “disgrace in the name of judiciary” were pasted on boundary walls of the judge’s residence in a South Kolkata locality. 

The posters, which were also put up along the road leading to Justice Mantha’s residence, had ‘shame’ emblazoned across the judge’s photo.

The posters accused Justice Mantha of ‘pardoning’ all criminal cases against leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikary, residing at an ‘illegal property’, and removing the ‘rightful protection’ accorded to Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law. 

The posters put up along the road leading to Justice Mantha’s residence.
The posters put up along the road leading to Justice Mantha’s residence.

Why Justice Mantha was targeted

Justice Mantha had restrained the state police from taking coercive measures against Suvendu Adhikary last month after the police, allegedly acting at the behest of the Trinamool, filed 26 FIRs against Adhikary.

The judge stayed proceedings on all the 26 FIRs and asked the state police to seek the court’s permission before registering any more FIRs against the leader of opposition.

Justice Mantha also withdrew the court protection granted to Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Maneka Gambhir from interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

Gambhir is suspected of being involved in laundering huge sums of money obtained from the cattle smuggling case that has ensnared top Trinamool leader Anubrata Mondal who is a close confidante of Mamata Banerjee.

The shameful attempts to target and browbeat Justice Mantha by putting up posters against him and blockading his courtroom were, perhaps, expected and are widely believed to have the sanction of the Trinamool top brass. 

Trinamool chief spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, who is himself an accused in the notorious Saradha chit fund scam and had spent many months behind bars, had criticised Justice Mantha after the order providing protection to Suvendu Adhikary. 

The demonstrations and blockade of Justice Mantha’s courtroom by Trinamool-affiliated lawyers Monday morning led to Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and another senior judge leaving their courtrooms in apparent disgust. They remained away for more than an hour. 

Chief Justice Srivastava then convened a meeting of senior judges and summoned the state’s top law officer--Advocate General Soumendra Nath Mookherjee--and Calcutta High Court Bar Association president Arunava Ghosh. 

The Chief Justice and other judges expressed their strong disapproval and disgust over the conduct of the lawyers and asked Mookherjee and Ghosh to convey the same to the agitating lawyers. 

“The Chief Justice and other Hon’ble Judges held that the blockade of Justice Mantha’s courtroom constituted ‘criminal contempt’. The Bar Association does not condone such acts and I urged the Chief Justice to take action as he deems fit,” Ghosh said after the meeting. 

The advocate general attempted to reason with the protesting lawyers, but failed. They sent him away brusquely by asking him if he will take responsibility for Justice Mantha dismissing their petitions and providing protection to BJP leaders again. 

Chief Justice Srivastava also scanned video footage of the protests in a bid to identify the lawyers who laid a siege to Justice Mantha’s courtroom and prevented other lawyers from entering the courtroom to represent their clients. 

Letter To Chief Justice

The protesting lawyers wrote a three-page letter to the Chief Justice urging him to relieve Justice Mantha of all cases that he is currently hearing. 

The letter read: “A judge’s position of power not only demands discipline and ferocious insight but also becomes as extraneous as an appendage to the chair he sits upon, orphaned of this, which the arrangement of justice delivery considers to be essential.

"It is with great regret we must proceed to deliberate upon the actions of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, who has perhaps fallen short of his usual standards in recent times… We are of the unanimous opinion that something analogous to a collapse of the system we have largely held together in the higher pursuit of justice could follow if our voices were to remain silenced at the cusp of change”. 

The letter, signed by some members of the Bar Association whose allegiance to the Trinamool is no secret, also said: “It is the consenting opinion of all members bar that we only have our staunch adherence to principles of natural justice, directed by your guidance as the sole available means to combat it.

"In its perfect world, words aren’t necessary for the times when the partiality of authority is understood to be apparent. Let this representation record our humble request for your lordship to relieve Justice Rajshekhar Mantha from his current determination and liberate him from his current responsibilities”. 

Trinamool’s earlier attempts to control judiciary

This is not the first time that the Trinamool has targeted a judge of the Calcutta High Court. Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay has been in the ruling party’s crosshairs because of his scathing observations and rulings in the school education department recruitment scam. 

The recruitment scam--in which thousands of undeserving candidates were appointed as teachers and non-teaching staff in government schools in lieu of bribes--had netted senior Trinamool Minister Partha Chatterjee and severely embarrassed the ruling party. 

Justice Gangopadhyay has been the target of vicious attacks by the Trinamool, whose chief spokesperson Kunal Ghosh even held a press conference to condemn the judge for his observations and rulings. 

The Trinamool’s blatant attempt to browbeat the judiciary comes in the wake of its numerous attempts to intimidate central agencies like the CBI and ED which are probing many scams in which top Trinamool functionaries are involved. 

Also read: This Is How Trinamool And Bengal Government Are Trying To Thwart Ongoing Probes Into Cattle-Smuggling Scam

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