Kolkata: West Bengal Advocate General Kishore Datta resigned Tuesday, becoming the fourth top law officer in the state to quit in a row, in the past 10 years.
Appointed as AG in February 2017, Datta had not been re-nominated after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took office in May this year. An AG has to be re-nominated after every new government is sworn in.
In his resignation letter to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, meanwhile, the AG cited “personal reasons” for his resignation.
In terms of Article 165 of the Constitution have accepted with immediate effect resignation submitted by Shri Kishore Datta, Senior Advocate, as Advocate General of State of West Bengal @MamataOfficial with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/IKK0Iu4qeG
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) September 14, 2021
According to West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak, the fact that Datta was not re-nominated could be the reason behind resignation.
“He was not re-nominated yet, and it has been four months since the new government was sworn in. That can be a reason, but giving the top law officer a re-nomination or not is the government’s decision. There are several factors behind such decisions,” Ghatak told ThePrint.
The West Bengal government also appointed senior advocate Gopal Mukherjee as the state’s new AG Tuesday, hours after Datta’s resignation.
ThePrint tried reaching Datta through phone calls and text messages but no response was received till the time of publishing this report.
‘Sidelined’, cases falling flat in HC
According to top sources in the state law department, Datta had been ”sidelined” in the past year and was not actively involved in the legal processes of West Bengal.
Instead, CM Banerjee has been increasingly relying on senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal — also Congress MPs — for important cases including the high-profile case in connection with the post-poll violence in the state.
Banerjee also got Singhvi to represent Rajeev Kumar, former police commissioner of Kolkata, after the CBI charged him with criminal conspiracy in the Saradha chit fund scam case.
Datta had argued his last case as AG Monday for Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy, after the latter’s appointment as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was challenged by a BJP MLA.
According to a senior official from the law department in West Bengal, some “important and sensitive” cases of the state government were falling flat in the Calcutta High Court with Datta failing to deliver.
“Datta failed to save the day for the Bengal government in the political violence case and bring a favourable order for Mamata Banerjee’s Nandigram result case. The Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI investigation into the political violence case and directed the state government to compensate the victims. This has been a major blow to the state,” the official told ThePrint.
He added: “The government also lost the case in connection with the FIR lodged against Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of Opposition in Bengal legislative assembly. Madam (CM Banerjee) was very angry with all such results.”
Datta is the fourth AG to resign in a row. The last three advocate generals to resign were Bimal Chatterjee, Anindya Mitra and Jayanta Mitra.
(Edited by Rachel John)