When judge dissents

Public expression shouldn’t influence functioning of courts

When judge dissents

Photo for representational purpose only

The note of dissent by a judge of the Calcutta High Court, questioning the procedure adopted in the Narada bribery case, has broader implications. In a letter to all other judges of the court, Justice Arindam Sinha has questioned the way the matter has been handled by the High Court. A CBI court had first granted bail to the four TMC leaders accused in the case, a decision which was stayed by a High Court Bench, in the course of which there was a difference of opinion between the Acting Chief Justice and another judge on whether to grant bail or put the arrested leaders under house arrest. The High Court finally granted interim bail to the four leaders on Friday. While the practice of high courts functioning under an Acting Chief Justice may not be new, having a regular Chief Justice could avoid such expression of contradictions, especially in critical cases.

The Narada bribery case itself appears to be murky with its details and timing. Some of the leaders who figured in the tapes later went on to join the BJP. The CBI has sought the Lok Sabha Speaker’s nod to prosecute them, unlike in the case of the TMC leaders against whom action was taken after permission from the West Bengal Governor.

The Narada case appears to be just one instance of the confrontation between West Bengal and the Centre; in the latest instance, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the state Chief Secretary skipped a review meeting called to take stock of the damage caused by cyclone Yaas, following which the latter was called for Central deputation. It was a meeting at which Mamata’s bête noire Suvendu Adhikari was also present. In a surcharged atmosphere where every occurrence is seen through a political lens, the task for the probe agencies only gets harder. In such a scenario, the role of the judiciary becomes all the more important. It is held in high esteem and though individual opinions do matter, public expression of differences should not influence the functioning of the courts.

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