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Teachers assault case: Calcutta High Court stays FIR against BJP leader Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay

The Calcutta High Court on Friday stayed the first information report (FIR) lodged against former judge and BJP leader Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who was booked by the West Bengal police for allegedly assaulting protesting teachers.

The single-judge Bench of Justice Tirthankar Ghosh stayed the FIR and other proceedings against both Gangopadhyay and BJP general secretary of the Tamluk constituency till June 14.

Taking into account the nature of the allegations made in the letter of complaint addressed to the Inspector-in-charge of Tamluk police station, the High Court noted that the allegations against Gangopadhyay in the FIR were of abetment.

The judge also referred to the recent order of the Supreme Court granting interim bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal (supra) for campaigning during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, noting that the observations in that case squarely applied to this case.

Justice Ghosh said that in the money laundering case against Kejriwal, the Supreme Court had taken into consideration the Lok Sabha elections, which involved the participation of 650-700 million voters to elect the government of the country for the next five years.

He further took in view the observation made by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tamluk, Purba Medinipur in respect of the case diary produced before the said court, as well as the fact that Gangopadhyay was a contesting candidate from 30-Tamluk Parliamentary Constituency,

The High Court then stayed the FIR and directed the West Bengal government to file an affidavit opposing the plea by the next date of hearing in the case – June 12.

The state police had lodged the FIR against Gangopadhyay for allegedly assaulting dismissed school employees at their protest site.

The BJP leader was booked for attempt to murder and other offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after a complaint by certain teaching and non-teaching staff members, who lost their jobs following a ruling from the Calcutta High Court in the school jobs-for-cash scam case.

The incident took place on May 4 when Gangopadhyay, accompanied by party colleague Suvendu Adhikari, took out a rally before submitting his nomination papers for the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat.

Throughout the rally, certain BJP supporters allegedly assaulted teachers, who were protesting after they lost their jobs in the wake of the High Court ruling.

On May 14, another judge Justice Jay Sengupta recused himself from hearing the plea filed by the former judge, stating that he knew Justice Gangopadhyay very closely.

Justice Sengupta ordered that the matter be placed before Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam, who assigned the matter to the Bench presided over by Justice Ghosh.

The case was mentioned on May 13 by Gangopadhyay’s counsel, Advocate Rajdeep Majumdar, who alleged that the FIR was politically motivated to stop Gangopadhyay from campaigning for the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Besides seeking the quashing of the FIR, the petition further sought directions to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the matter.

Justice Gangopadhyay was represented by Advocates Rajdeep Mazumder, Billawadal Bhattacharyya, Moyukh Mukherjee, Pritam Roy, Anish Kr. Mukherjee, S Bhattacharjee, Sagnika Banerjee, Aishwaryya Bazaz and Triparna Roy.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta and Senior Standing Counsel Amitesh Banerjee, along with Advocates Sirsanya Bandopadhyay, Rudrajit Sarkar and RK Ganguly, appeared for the State.

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