PROTESTS by lawyers against Kolkata High Court Judge Rajasekhar Mantha, which led to a suo motu petition by him against them, follow a series of orders issued by the judge in recent months against West Bengal’s ruling establishment.
The orders related to cases involving Suvendu Adhikari, the Trinamool leader-turned-BJP-MLA, and a relative of TMC Secretary-General Abhishek Banerjee.
On Monday, when Judge Mantha was scheduled to hear several cases, a Some of the lawyers protested in front of his courtroomdisruption of the process and decided not to attend his court.
justice Mantha’s petition against the lawyers The testimony that they also prevented their colleagues from appearing before his court is made before a divisional bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj.
In December last year, Judge Mantha granted opposition leader Adhikari protection and ordered state police not to register any more FIRs against him without the Supreme Court’s permission. Adhikari had requested that 26 FIRs be registered against him at various police stations to prevent him from performing his duties as an MLA.
Earlier, Judge Mantha had stripped Gambhir, Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law, of protection in a money laundering case.
Justice Mantha, 56, received his schooling in Kolkata before studying law at the University College of Law, Nagpur University, followed by an LL.M. in Corporate Law from King’s College, London.
He was registered as an attorney with the West Bengal Bar Association in December 1991 and as a Senior Advocate in July 2015 before being appointed Additional Judge of the Calcutta High Court in 2017. Two years later he became a permanent judge.
Among those who criticized the lawyers’ actions was Judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who faced similar protests last April after ordering a CBI investigation into fraud in hiring teachers at the state’s state schools.
“I will not name a courtroom but it is true that attempts are being made to terrorize the judicial system in West Bengal. Our justice system is not so weak that it would collapse under such attempts. I have been a practicing barrister at the Calcutta High Court for 23 years and a judge of that court for five years. I’ve never seen an incident like this before,” Judge Gangopadhyay told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of an event.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly also condemned the protesting lawyers. “It’s very common that you don’t like the order of a single bank. This decision may be appealed to a higher court, in particular the Supreme Court. But a judge cannot be threatened like that. This is nothing more than an attack on the judiciary. It will have long-term negative effects on the justice system,” Ganguly said.
The BJP accused the TMC of trying to influence the judiciary. BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said: “The TMC wants to control everything. It has successfully politicized the police, administration, government employees and other institutions. People only had hope in the judiciary and some judges who don’t back down under pressure. Now they are trying to threaten them.”
Ghosh also claimed that the protesting lawyers owed allegiance to the TMC, adding that the deadlock on proceedings in Justice Mantha’s courtroom “should be viewed as a black day in the history of the Indian judiciary”.
The TMC said the BJP should not talk about decency. Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen said: “Those who have taken control of the CBI, ED, NIA and income tax and are using them against the opposition for political dividends are saying this! Even they tried to take control of the judiciary…These comments only reflect their frustration at not winning an election in West Bengal.”