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'Legal Issues Can't Be Raised And Settled In Streets' : Acting CJ Rajesh Bindal Of Calcutta HC Refuses Interim Bail To TMC Leaders In Narada Scam Case

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 May 2021 2:42 PM GMT
Legal Issues Cant Be Raised And Settled In Streets : Acting CJ Rajesh Bindal Of Calcutta HC Refuses Interim Bail To TMC Leaders In Narada Scam Case
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The Calcutta High Court division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee has delivered a split verdict on the pleas for interim bail of four Trinamool Congress leaders arrested by the CBI in the Narada scam case.While Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal refused interim bail, Justice Banerjee held that interim bail should be granted. In view of...

The Calcutta High Court division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee has delivered a split verdict on the pleas for interim bail of four Trinamool Congress leaders arrested by the CBI in the Narada scam case.

While Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal refused interim bail, Justice Banerjee held that interim bail should be granted. In view of the conflicting views of the judges, the matter has been referred to a 5-judge bench. Both the judges however reached a consensus that the accused should be kept in house arrest till the matter if finally resolved.

They have authored separate orders stating reasons for their conclusions.

The case relates to the bail granted to Ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, MLA Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, who were arrested by the CBI from their Kolkata residences on May 17. The arrests sparked off dramatic developments in the state capital, with the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sitting in dharna in front of the CBI office at Kolkata and the Law Minister Moloy Ghatak leading a large group of protesters to the premises of the court which was hearing the bail applications of the Trinamool leaders.

The Acting Chief Justice, in his order, noted that the arguments were progressing in the petitions filed by the TMC leaders seeking recall of the order passed by the High Court to stay the bail granted by the trial court. The counsel for one of the accused has not completed his arguments. The CBI is yet to be heard in its response. Hence, Justice Bindal said, it was "pre-mature" to find a prima facie case for interim bail, especially when the cases are taken on a day to day basis.

"Interim relief prayed for is in the kind of final relief", the order stated.

The order also referred to the "unprecedented situation" which led to the stay order.  In this connection, the order referred to the arguments made by the CBI that entire proceedings for grant of bail before the trial court were vitiated on account of unprecedented protests led by the Chief Minister in the office of CBI and by the Law Minister in the court complex.

The order stated that legal issues cannot be allowed to be raised and settled in streets, and the issue was one related to rule of law versus mobocracy, which have a direct bearing on the "public trust and confidence of the people in the judicial system".

"Whether mobocracy, where any law enforcing agency was allegedly obstructed in discharge of its official duty, can have impact on decision or the decision making process, is yet to be gone into. Issue regarding access to justice is to be examined, where the allegations are that the CBI officers were even denied access to court. Arguments of the CBI that entire proceedings for grant of bail before the trial court were vitiated on account of unprecedented protests led by the Chief Minister in the office of CBI and by the Law Minister in the court complex, are yet to be examined. These have direct bearing on the 'public trust and confidence of the people in the judicial system' and the rule of law versus the mobocracy. Legal issues cannot be allowed to be raised and settled in streets,as these are not decided by show of strength but on merits of the controversy in accordance with law,for whic hrobust judicial system is available", the Acting Chief Justice noted in the order.

"Extra-ordinary situations need extra-ordinary solutions", Justice Bindal stated.

However, considering the age and health of the accused, Justice Bindal said that the accused should be permitted to be in house arrest. In this regard, the order referred to the recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the case Gautam Navlakha vs Union of India, which held that house arrest was a form of custody permissible under Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Justice Arijit Banerjee has listed the following reasons for holding that they are entitled to interim bail :

  • Case is of 2014; FIR is of 2017. Investigation is complete and chargesheet has been filed. So no further scope of tampering with evidence.
  • It is not disputed that the applicants have so far cooperated with the investigation.
  • Applicants are permanent residents of Kolkata. Two of them are cabinet ministers. One is an MLA. They are not 'flight risks' and there is little chance of they absconding.
  • Accused persons are of advanced age. They are of the age 62 years old, 75 years old, 80 years old, and 75 years old.
  • Supreme Court has passed a special order taking note of the COVID situation stating that bail should be granted liberally unless custodial detention is absolutely necessary.

Separate report about Justice Arijit Banerjee's order may be read here.

'Haven't Understood How Custodial Detention Is Necessary': Justice Arijit Banerjee 's Reasons For Granting Interim Bail To TMC Leaders In Narada Case

Today, the division bench passed a unanimous order allowing the accused to access files through online mode and to meet officials virtually, during their period of house arrest. This arrangement was made considering the fact that there are ministers and MLAs among the accused.

The matter will be heard by a 5-judge bench on May 24.

On May 17, the High Court had stayed the bail granted by the Special CBI Court at Kokata to four Trinamool Congress leaders - Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee - who were arrested dramatically by CBI on May 17.

The bench passed the stay order after a dramatic late night hearing held on the basis of a letter sent by the CBI seeking transfer of the case to the High Court citing "unprecedented mob pressure" exerted on the lower court by the mass protests led by Chief Minister and the Law Minister against the arrests of the TMC leaders.

On the next day, the TMC leaders filed applications seeking recall of the stay order on the ground that it was passed without issuing notice to them.

Case : CBI ACB Kolkata vs Shri Firhad Hakim @ Bobby Hakim and others

Click here to read/download the order









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