“The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday asked if it was appropriate to have public protests against the arrests of four TMC leaders when their bail applications were being heard by the Court”
A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee was hearing the CBI’s case against the bail granted to TMC leaders Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Souvan Chatterjee in the Narada Scam case.
The CBI is seeking to transfer the bail applications from the Special CBI Court to the High Court, citing the “unprecedented mob pressure” exerted by the protests of Chief Minister Mammata Banerjee and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak along with their supporters.
The bench is also hearing the applications filed by the arrested TMC leaders seeking recall of the order passed by the High Court on May 17 to stay the bail granted by the Special CBI judge.
After hearing Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the CBI, Senior Advocates Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Siddharth Luthra for the accused for over two hours, the bench adjourned the case till tomorrow 2 PM for further hearing.
During the hearing, Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal asked if protests are a way to respond when the matter is being considered by a Court of Law. He also asked if political leaders have a duty to not incite their followers.
Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for three of the four arrested TMC leaders, said that the protests were peaceful expressions of outrage against “unlawful arrests” and that they did not impede neither the functions of the CBI nor the proceedings in the Special CBI Court.
Singhvi stressed that the Chief Minister had made an appeal for peaceful protests and that there were no exhortations for violence. He dubbed the Chief Minister’s protests “Gandhian”.
“You say CM went to CBI office to protest..Gandhian protest. Peaceful protest. But is it the way to respond when the matter is considered by Court? By protesting in streets?”, Acting Chief Justice asked.
To this, Dr. AM Singhvi appearing replied that the case can be fought legally on merits and the issue of political vendetta can be protested democratically.
“It would be negation of democracy to say that just because the matter is before court you cannot peacefully protest outside. Merely because a matter has gone to Court, it will not stop democratic dissent,” he added.
“If there is a percep