The Supreme Court took strong exception on Friday to repetitive petitions filed by BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari against the West Bengal Assembly speaker’s decision not to disqualify MLA Mukul Roy.
A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjay Kumar told senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who appeared in the matter on behalf of Adhikari, “This is not the way. You had earlier also filed a similar petition and later withdrew it. You know there is a writ petition pending before the high court on this issue. You cannot bypass the high court like this. We take strong exception to this.”
Vaidyanathan apologised to the court but added that the present plea was filed as another petition challenging a high court order dated April 11, 2022 is pending before the apex court.
The bench told Vaidyanathan that he is a senior counsel and does not need to apologise but it is making these observations as it does not like the process adopted by the petitioner.
“There is a system in place. You were here earlier too last year and then you chose to withdraw your plea, saying you would look for a remedy before the high court,” the bench said, adding that the plea against the June 8, 2022 order of the Assembly speaker was withdrawn by Adhikari.
On June 8 last year, West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee had ruled that Roy was a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA after a complaint was submitted to him by Adhikari, saying Roy had defected to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) after the 2021 state Assembly polls.
Sensing the mood of the judges, Vaidyanathan said he would like to withdraw two petitions listed before the bench, including the one that challenged the speaker’s order.
The bench recorded in its order: “Upon our expressing reservations in entertaining this petition, particularly in the backdrop of the fact that earlier too, the writ petition filed in this court was withdrawn so as to approach the high court, as recorded in the order dated February 25, 2022 passed in a batch of petitions…, the senior counsel appearing for the petitioner seeks permission to withdraw with liberty for the petitioner to approach the high court.”
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It took note of the submission made by Vaidyanathan that Adhikari had filed the petition before the top court essentially because an earlier appeal challenging the high court’s April 11, 2022 order is pending in this court.
“So far as the said SLP (special leave petition) is concerned, the same is obviously rendered redundant after the speaker passed the order dated June 8, 2022 and, in the totality of the circumstances, particularly when earlier the petition had been filed in the high court, we find little justification for the petition against the order dated June 8, 2022 being filed in this court,” the bench said.
It, however, added that when the petitioner’s counsel has sought permission to withdraw, without any other comment, “we are inclined to grant such permission with liberty to the petitioner to take recourse to appropriate remedies in accordance with law, including filing a petition in the high court and making an appropriate request for its analogous hearing with pending matters. This petition stands dismissed as withdrawn with the observations foregoing”.
It said another petition filed by Adhikari against the high court order dated April 11, 2022 is rendered redundant as the Speaker pronounced his order subsequently and therefore, stands dismissed.
On April 11, 2022, the Calcutta High Court had set aside Banerjee’s order dismissing a petition filed by Leader of Opposition Adhikari that sought Roy’s disqualification as a member of the House on the ground of defection and restoring the matter for fresh consideration.
Setting aside the speaker’s February 22, 2022 order, which dismissed Adhikari’s petition seeking Roy’s disqualification as a member of the House, the high court had said the certificate filed before the speaker under section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act needs to be considered in accordance with law and the electronic evidence needs to be re-appreciated.
Adhikari had challenged the high court’s April 11, 2022 order in a separate petition, which was dismissed by the court.
On June 8 last year, Banerjee rejected Adhikari’s plea to disqualify Roy, saying he did not find any merit in the petitioner’s arguments. The speaker had maintained his earlier decision in the matter.