Calcutta High Court Clash: Supreme Court Mediates Political Bias Charges
In a clash between two sitting judges of the Calcutta High Court, the Supreme Court has intervened as a mediator. The apex court has taken over a case concerning allegations of fraudulent caste certificates for MBBS admissions. Meanwhile, West Bengal has accused Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of damaging the judiciary’s reputation.
Shortly after Justice Gangopadhyay’s ruling, the West Bengal government appealed to a division bench of the Calcutta High Court led by Justice Soumen Sen. This bench promptly suspended the previous order from the single-judge bench, halting the CBI investigation.
Amidst an unprecedented circumstance, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay took the initiative to have the case listed before him. He then issued a new directive, declaring the previous rulings by the two-judge bench as unlawful. Furthermore, Justice Gangopadhyay stated in his order that Justice Soumen Sen was allegedly representing a political party in the state.
This extraordinary development led to a special session convened by a five-judge panel led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud on Saturday (January 27). During this session, the Supreme Court intervened by suspending Justice Gangopadhyay’s initial order for a CBI investigation.
During Monday’s Supreme Court session, the West Bengal government strongly criticized Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, alleging his participation in rallies and media interviews. Representing West Bengal, Kapil Sibal argued that Justice Gangopadhyay’s actions were tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, present at the hearing, refrained from making any remarks on the matter, stating his intention to await further discussion by the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice of India, leading the five-judge Supreme Court panel, expressed a preference for addressing the issue differently. He emphasized the importance of avoiding any negative implications toward either judge of the Calcutta High Court and stressed the need to uphold the dignity of the court.
The West Bengal government highlighted Justice Gangopadhyay’s consistent involvement in such cases and issuance of comparable orders. The Chief Justice of India commented that the assignment of cases among judges fell under the jurisdiction of the Chief Justice of the High Court, expressing a reluctance to interfere with that authority.
In a recent development, Justice Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI investigation into alleged irregularities in the admission of MBBS candidates in state-run medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal. Despite this, the Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal sought intervention from the division bench chaired by Justice Sen, resulting in an interim stay on Justice Gangopadhyay’s order. However, Justice Gangopadhyay later instructed the continuation of the CBI investigation, defying the division bench’s directive.
He further directed the registrar general of the High Court to promptly communicate this decision to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. Moreover, Justice Gangopadhyay accused Justice Sen of acting in favor of a particular political party in West Bengal, alleging misconduct on his part. The escalating dispute highlights broader concerns of judicial impartiality and jurisdiction within the Calcutta High Court.
THE FAKE CASTE CERTIFICATE CASE
A case regarding fraudulent caste certificates surfaced in the Calcutta High Court on January 24, following a petition. The petitioner alleged the rampant distribution of counterfeit caste certificates in West Bengal, particularly for securing admissions into medical colleges.