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Supreme Court stays order passed by single bench of Calcutta High Court defying Division Bench

The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed all proceedings in a case arising from a judicial order passed by the single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay to ignore a Division Bench stay order of the Calcutta High Court pertaining to Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee.

The order was passed by a five-judge bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aniruddha Bose in a special Saturday sitting.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the events transpiring before the Calcutta High Court in the past few days, the Supreme Court on Friday decided to hear the matter on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

The matter pertained to a petition filed in the Calcutta High Court alleging that the issuance of fake caste certificates was rampant in West Bengal and that several persons have obtained such certificates to get admission to medical courses.

On January 24, Justice Gangopadhyay passed an order asking the West Bengal Police to hand over documents related to the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Minutes after said order was passed, Advocate General Kishore Datta mentioned the matter before the Division Bench of Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Uday Kumar, which stayed the single-judge’s order on the same day.

Justice Gangopadhyay then took up the matter again the very same day, and ordered the AG to hand over the case papers to the CBI, insisting that he wasn’t informed of the stay order passed by the division bench.

The Division Bench then took up the matter again on January 25 and set aside the order passed by Justice Gangopadhyay.

Justice Gangopadhyay then passed a judicial order on Thursday night, asking the AG what rule allowed a Division Bench to stay an order of a single-judge when there was no memo of appeal. The order recorded that the AG submitted that he was not liable to reply this question, the single-judge being a ‘lower court’ comparing to the Division Bench.

The judicial order alleged that Justice Soumen Sen directed Justice Amrita Sinha not to pass adverse orders against Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee.

Justice Gangopadhyay claimed in the order that Justice Sinha had informed him on a phone call that Justice Sen asked her to come to his chamber before the winter vacation.

As per the order, Justice Sinha informed Justice Gangopadhyay that Justice Sen called her to his chamber on the last day before vacation and like a political leader, he dictated Justice Sinha three things:-

i) Abhishek Banerjee has a political future, he should not be disturbed.

ii) Live-streaming shall be stopped in Justice Amrita Sinha’s court.

iii) The two writ petitions before Justice Amrita Sinha, where the name of Abhishek Banerjee is involved, are to be dismissed, it added.

Justice Sinha informed the Chief Justice of the High Court about this, who in turn intimated the Chief Justice of India.

The judicial order further accused Justice Sen of working for the ruling Trinamool Congress. It said that Justice Sen was acting clearly for some political party in the State and therefore, the orders passed in the matters involving the State, were required to be relooked if the Supreme Court thought so.

Justice Gangopadhyay requested the Chief Justice of India to look into the matter, noting that a judge calling another judge in his chamber and dictating something to her was nothing but interference with the course of justice.

The order noted that Justice Sen had been recommended for a transfer to the Orissa High Court by the Supreme Court Collegium in 2021, despite which the judge was continuing at the Calcutta High Court.

He further requested the CJI to find out about the persons, who were saving Justice Sen from such transfer whereby the order of the Supreme Court Collegium can be ignored while the other Judges have been transferred by the same recommendation?

The judicial order further mentioned an order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court headed by Justice Sen, which first stayed and then set aside his order directing the CBI to probe an alleged fake caste certificate scam in the State.

Justice Gangopadhyay further urged the CJI to look into the order passed by the Division Bench without any memorandum of appeal and impugned order.

Justice Sinha has been hearing a bunch of petitions related to the ‘School Jobs for Cash Scam’ in which Banerjee is alleged to have played a crucial role. The judge had made several observations in open court while hearing that matter and had even passed an order asking the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to properly probe Banerjee’s role in the scam.

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