‘Not inclined’: SC on West Bengal plea against stay on Suvendu Adhikari’s arrest

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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea by the West Bengal government challenging the Calcutta High Court decision to protect BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from arrest in cases registered against him, after he switched from the Trinamool Congress to BJP.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna noted the observation of the high court is in support of an ad-interim stay granted. “We are not inclined to use our special powers under Article 136,” said the bench, clarifying that it would not opine on the merits of the case.

Senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee, counsel for West Bengal government, contended that the high court jumped to a conclusion, as it took a prima facie view that Adhikari was being victimised by filing of criminal cases against him. He, questioning the high court order, added that a blanket order was passed so that nothing could be done in future and contended the state government would have to get leave of the court before arresting Adhikari in such cases.

The counsel emphasised that while the order is required to be reasoned, those reasons must be sustainable in law, which was not there in this matter.

Adhikari was allegedly accused of hooliganism, gathering an unlawful assembly, and also violating Covid-19 guidelines, amongst other things. He had moved the high court claiming the West Bengal government was abusing the police machinery by registering six FIRs against him at four different police stations.

The counsel for the state government vehemently argued that merely because the complaints were made after he switched to the BJP from the Trinamool, these cases cannot be termed malicious.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Adhikari, pointed out before the top court that the hearing before a single judge bench of the high court went for nearly a month before the order was passed. He added that it seems uncharitable to say the judge after one month of hearing jumped to a conclusion.

“Dr Dhawan coined the term ‘regime revenge.’ That’s exactly what is happening….He contested against the incumbent Chief Minister and that became a big prestige issue…”.

The high court, in September this year, had observed the state government was attempting to implicate Adhikari by filing criminal cases against him, and granted him interim protection from arrest in six FIRs registered against him.

The top court said it is open for the state to file counter affidavit before the high court and seek expeditious hearing.

20211213-181503

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