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Narada sting case: Calcutta HC reserves order on Mamata and law minister’s plea on submitting affidavits

Taking up the plea, a five-judge Bench of the high court reserved its order for Wednesday. The HC had earlier stated that it would wait for arguments in the case to be heard substantially before placing on record their affidavits.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
June 30, 2021 6:17:16 am
CM Mamata Banerjee. (File)

After the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside a Calcutta High Court order, refusing to place on record Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state Law Minister Malay Ghatak’s affidavits in the Narada sting tapes case, they moved a petition seeking acceptance of the same.

Taking up the plea, a five-judge Bench of the high court reserved its order for Wednesday. The HC had earlier stated that it would wait for arguments in the case to be heard substantially before placing on record their affidavits.

The apex court directed Banerjee and Ghatak to file an application before the high court, requesting that it decide on their plea first before proceeding with the hearing on merit.

Advocate General Kishore Datta argued before the five-Judge Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices IP Mukherjee, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee, that the state is responsible for maintaining law and order and is, thus, best suited to show the actual facts of the alleged incident and assist the court in deciding if the mobocracy argument raised by the CBI holds.

Citing Rule 38, Datta pleaded that the parties (CM and the law minister) are given 4 weeks’ time (starting May 27) to file their affidavits. He claimed that they had made known their intent to submit their affidavits on June 5 and there was no delay at their end.

To that, the Bench asked the AG what will happen if the arguments are concluded before expiration of four weeks.

Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the CM and the Law minister, said, “It is settled that mere delay is not a sufficient ground for rejecting pleadings and evidence that are material for adjudication of a case…This is not a simpliciter case of transfer. It involves vital findings, nullification of bail order, serious impact on the respondents.”

Both Datta and Dwivedi argued that investigating agencies are supposed to ascertain the truth and present it before the court even if it does not support their case.

Opposing their submissions, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that AG Datta waived notices for the CM and the Law minister on May 27 but he was present for the proceedings since May 17.

At this, Justice Soumen Sen said that while exercising its supervisory jurisdiction, the court can always ask for record what the state of affairs was on the alleged date of incident.

Justice Mukerji also asked Mehta if the court can place the affidavits on record and examine judicially if they are an afterthought or not. Agreeing to the suggestion, Mehta further urged that the Bench impose a cost on the respondents for delay in filing of affidavits, even if the same is taken on record.

“Arguments in these kinds of applications have to be very short, otherwise it gives a very wrong signal. First you came here with your affidavit. Then you appealed to the Supreme Court. Now you have filed this application. This is leading to a very protracted hearing,” Justice Mukerji told the AG.

He added, “Courts are concerned with dispensing justice. If procedural aspects take so long, what impression will this give to the public about the functioning of Judiciary?”

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