The Calcutta high court will hear on June 24 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's petition challenging the election of Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram.
Banerjee's counsel Friday wrote to the secretary of the Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta HC, seeking reassignment of her petition to another bench.
Alleging that Justice Kaushik Chanda, who is hearing Banerjee's plea, 'was an active member of the Bharatiya Janata Party', the letter said that since the adjudication of the election petition will have political ramifications, the matter should be assigned to another judge by the Acting Chief Justice, who is a master of the roster.
The CM's lawyer also stated in the letter that she 'had objected to the confirmation of the Hon'ble Judge as a Permanent Judge of the Hon'ble high court at Calcutta' and as such, apprehends there is a likelihood of bias on the part of the judge concerned.
Banerjee's counsel urged that the letter be placed before the Acting Chief Justice forthwith 'for necessary re-assignment of Election Petition so as to avoid any prejudice and/or presumption of prejudice'.
Justice Chanda earlier in the day adjourned till June 24 Banerjee's petition for declaring election of Suvendu Adhikari, at present the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, from Nandigram null and void.
Justice Chanda said Banerjee is required to be present on the first day, as it was an election petition.
The lawyer for Banerjee said she will act in accordance with the law.
Adjourning the matter till June 24, Justice Chanda directed, 'In the meantime, the Registrar, high court... shall file a report before this court as to whether this petition has been filed in conformity with the Representation of People Act, 1951.'
In her election petition, the Trinamool Congress chief accused Adhikari of committing corrupt practises as envisaged under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Banerjee also claimed in the petition that discrepancies were committed in the counting process.
The Election Commission had last month declared Adhikari winner of the Nandigram seat after a close competition with his former mentor.
Meanwhile, the ruling Trinamool Congress, on its official Twitter handle, shared a purported photograph of Chanda sharing the dais with state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
PTI could not independently verify the authenticity of the picture.
TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said the judge should be shifted from the case.
The party's Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra, too, tweeted on the issue.
The BJP, however, said the judiciary should be respected.
"I share the stage with a lot of people. What is the harm if he had shared the dais with us when he was a lawyer? Now, he is a judge. We should respect the judiciary," Ghosh said.
A section of lawyers also staged a protest in front of the high court over Justice Chanda being assigned to hear the election petition by the Trinamool Congress supremo.
"We have no personal ill-feeling or allegation against the judge, but he was associated with a particular political party," one of the lawyers said.
The judge should recuse himself from hearing Banerjee's plea, he added.