Monday (17 May) morning saw Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee doing what she does best: fly into a rage, storm into the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office and stay there for six hours; organised a brute show of force by riotous mobs outside the Nizam Palace (which houses the CBI office) and the Raj Bhawan; deputed her law minister and a large number of partymen to stage another brute show of force at the CBI court, where the bail petitions of the four arrested Trinamool leaders were heard.
But a little over 12 hours after she stormed the CBI office to demand the release of her two arrested ministers (Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee) and legislator Madan Mitra (the fourth arrested — Sovan Chattopadhyay — had left the Trinamool, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP and left the saffron party also), her bullying boomeranged when the Calcutta High Court cancelled the bail granted to the four by the CBI court.
A High Court bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and comprising Justice Arijit Banerjee cancelled the bail of the four arrested and sent them to judicial custody solely because of the unlawful actions of Mamata Banerjee and her law minister.
The High Court, in its order cancelling the bail granted to the four, observed that not only did a mob start gathering outside the Nizam Palace (it houses many central government offices, including that of the CBI), the Chief Minister herself reached the CBI office and sat on a dharna there.
It took note of submissions made by Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, that while inside the CBI office, the Chief Minister demanded the ‘unconditional release’ of the four arrested.
The court also took exception to the fact that the law minister, along with many Trinamool supporters and functionaries, mobbed the lower court where the four arrested were to have been produced. The law minister remained present in the court till the arguments by the counsels on behalf of the CBI and the arrested were heard.
The High Court concluded that any order passed by a court under such circumstances “will not have the faith and confidence of the people in the system of administration of justice”.
The Calcutta HC bench, in its order issued late Monday night, noted: “Confidence of the people in the justice system will be eroded in case such types of incidents are allowed to happen in the matters where political leaders are arrested and are to be produced in Court. Public trust and confidence in the judicial system is more important, it being the last resort. They (the public) may have a feeling that it is not the rule of the law which prevails but it is a mob which has an upper hand and especially in a case where it is led by the Chief Minister of the State in the office of the CBI and by the Law Minister of the State in the Court Complex. If the parties to a litigation believe in the rule of law, such a system is not followed”.
Shorn of legalese, what the High Court’s observations and orders mean in simple language is that brazen attempts were made by Banerjee to bully the CBI into releasing the arrested persons and to influence the lower court to grant bail to the arrested.
Allowing such acts would lead to loss of faith in the judicial process and the courts, and that cannot be allowed. The court said that it is not even going into the merits of the case (the arrest of the four by the CBI) and is ordering the cancellation of bail granted to them by the lower court simply because of the intimidatory actions of Banerjee, the law minister and the mobs.
The High Court order, cancelling the bail of the four, was not the only blow suffered by the Trinamool and not the only judicial rap on Banerjee’s knuckles.
The High Court also stated in its order that there are sufficient grounds to consider the request of the Solicitor General of India for transferring the trial of the case out of Bengal.
The High Court bench said: “In our opinion, aforesaid facts are sufficient to take cognizance of the present matter with reference to the request of the learned Solicitor General of India for examination of the issue regarding transfer of the trial”.
The Solicitor General had submitted that since the mobs mobilised by the Trinamool had been attacking the Nizam Palace complex and were present in large numbers in the court complex housing the CBI court, and given the developments throughout the day, the trial of the case should be transferred out of Bengal.
Thus, Banerjee’s whimsical actions and her brazen act of staging a show of force to bully the CBI and the lower court into submission went horribly wrong and boomeranged on her.
Her actions on Monday may haunt her for a long time to come.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.