The high court division bench comprising justice Nishita Mhatre and justice Tapas Mookherjee on Thursday reprimanded the vacation judge of Alipore district sessions court for the ‘reckless haste’ with which he granted bail to Madan Mitra. It also endorsed the CBI’s contention that the judge’s stand raised suspicion.
The CBI, in its petition seeking the cancellation of Mitra’s bail, had mentioned that no notice was issued as required by law to the agency by the lower court. Rather, a notice was issued to the CBI by the advocate for the opposite party without indicating that the case diary must be brought to court on October 31 during Mitra’s bail hearing.
The vacation judge has violated the principles of natural justice by not granting an adjournment when he was informed that neither the investigating officer in the case nor the case diary was available in court that day, the bench said. The CBI also alleged in its petition that the vacation judge should not have granted bail when the high court had already rejected the application for the same filed by Madan Mitra on August 6 on several grounds. Also, these grounds had not been considered by the vacation judge while granting bail. Further, the vacation judge had not alluded to any change in the circumstances, thereby warranting a different order, after the order of the high court on August 6, 2015.
The Calcutta High Court division bench in its order said that the lower court could well have adjourned the matter to another day. There is no dispute that the court was on vacation and the learned judge had been assigned the matter as a vacation judge.
“We are unable to appreciate the reckless haste and precipitateness with which the learned judge desired to dispose of a matter which was filed on October 9, 2015, in the absence of the case diary and the investigating officer. It is true that speedy disposal of criminal cases is the sine qua non of the criminal justice system. However, when a case of this magnitude which has ramifications in several states besides the state of West Bengal (is being heard), it was necessary for the learned vacation judge to act with some caution and circumspection. No earth shattering event would have occurred had he adjourned the matter to another date,” said the division bench in its order.
The hurry in granting the bail to Mitra has also raised the suspicion of the division bench.
“In fact, he (Mitra) has been hospitalised since February 2015 after he was arrested in December 2014. He has miraculously become well after he was granted bail and is now confined to his house under police surveillance pursuant to the order passed on November 5 2015 in this application. Therefore, in our opinion, the propriety of passing an order with such great dispatch raises a cloud of suspicion,” the division bench added.