7 Nov 2023 4:58 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday (November 6) sought a report from the West Bengal government with respect to an ongoing criminal investigation, which has allegedly suffered interference by Calcutta High Court judge Amrita Sinha and her husband. A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti was hearing a criminal writ petition alleging that the lawyer-husband of the sitting high court...
The Supreme Court on Monday (November 6) sought a report from the West Bengal government with respect to an ongoing criminal investigation, which has allegedly suffered interference by Calcutta High Court judge Amrita Sinha and her husband.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti was hearing a criminal writ petition alleging that the lawyer-husband of the sitting high court judge as well as the judge herself has been pressuring the police to shield an accused in the criminal case emerging out of a family dispute.
During Monday’s hearing, the court pronounced –
“It is pointed out by the learned counsel appearing for the State of West Bengal that the investigation has been transferred to the state criminal investigation department (CID) and is proceeding in accordance with law. Some papers were shown to us, which have been returned to the learned counsel. Re-list in the month of December 2023. In the meantime, the investigation will continue. An up-to-date status report will be filed in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing. If the investigation is complete, it will be open to the investigating officer to proceed in accordance with law.”
The petitioners were represented by Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was assisted by Advocate-on-Record Mithu Jain.
The petitioners, Bani Roy Choudhury, a sexagenarian widow, and her daughter, have raised serious concerns about the physical and mental abuse they have endured at the hands of the respondents. The case, initially a civil dispute over ancestral property, took a troubling turn when the lawyer, allegedly started exerting undue influence due to his marital connection with Justice Sinha. “He started threatening the petitioners and the investigating agencies on account of his spousal status, being the husband of a sitting judge of the high court,” the petition alleges.
The mother-daughter duo has also accused the high court judge of “misusing her powers” to “thwart due process and to bring to a standstill the investigation” into two first information reports (FIR) registered by the petitioners. Besides this, they have claimed that the state administration has ignored their plight, allowing the interference to persist unchecked –
“…What has further shocked the conscience of the petitioners and made them lose trust in the entire legal process is the active participation of the lawyer-husband, and further illegal interference by the sitting judge, who is misusing the position she occupies. [There is] constant interference by the lawyer-husband who is an officer of the court in his capacity as an advocate, and by his wife, a sitting judge of a constitutional court in the country, who is vested with the powers to impart justice but is misusing the powers for her personal interest and at the behest of her husband, with the sole intent to cause prejudice to the petitioners and thwart due process and to bring to a standstill the investigation.”
The investigating officer was summoned to Justice Sinha’s chambers in the high court premises, where he was reprimanded and instructed to drop the investigation as being purely civil in nature, the petitioners have further alleged, calling this a “direct interference with an ongoing investigation of a case by employing extra-constitutional measures”. The petition also adds –
“This is even more glaring since neither was there any lis or proceeding pending before the judge with regard to the dispute, nor did she have the roster or determination of such criminal matters. Her conduct does not by any stretch of imagination pertain to her discharging her judicial functions. Soon after the investigating officer was summoned by the judge to her chambers, one of the respondents was released on bail after only two days of custody, without any objections from the investigating agency. This was despite the police officials themselves being witnesses to the beatings meted out to the petitioners by the said respondent, while they stood as mute spectators. The official respondents, in either collusion or connivance with the perpetrators or under illegal diktats of the lawyer-husband and his wife, the sitting Calcutta high court judge, have shown complete apathy to the petitioners’ cause and concerns, which has led to them fearing for their life and property.”
Accordingly, the petitioners have called for a fair investigation into the FIRs without any external interference and stressed the need for the court’s intervention to ensure justice is served. They have also explained why the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32 has been invoked, saying, “The petitioners having faced systematic harassment at the hands of none other than a sitting judge of the highest constitutional office in the state, and being denied of their right to fair investigation and justice have lost all hope in the state machinery and has therefore invoked the extraordinary remedy guaranteed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.”
Bani Roy Choudhury & Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Ors. | Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 482 of 2023
Click here to read the order