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Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of Calcutta High Court resigns, says yet to decide on future

The judge had told a news channel on March 3 that he would enter the political arena after resigning from his post.

Justice Gangopadhyay has been in the thick of things in the recent past.

Recently, he had accused Justice Soumen Sen of “acting for a political party in the State”.

This had happened after Justice Sen, part of a Division Bench, stayed an order by Justice Gangopadhyay directing the West Bengal Police to hand over documents related to a case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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

Notably, the petition did not seek any direction for a CBI probe. However, the judge ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CBI.

In his order, Justice Gangopadhay also alleged that Justice Sen had called Justice Amrita Sinha who was hearing matters involving TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, to his chambers and told her that Abhishek Banerjee has a political future and that he shouldn’t be disturbed.

Following Justice Gangopadhyay’s order, the Supreme Court had taken cognisance of the defiance of the Division Bench order and transferred all proceedings to itself.

A High Court judge since May 2018, Justice Gangopadhyay has repeatedly been accused of flouting the norms of judicial discipline by ignoring larger bench orders, speaking to TV channels on political issues and even issuing directions to the Supreme Court Registry.

In April 2023, Justice Gangopadhyay, who was then dealing with a batch of petitions regarding the ‘School Jobs for Cash Scam,’ had given an interview to a local Bengali news channel on the role of TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee in the said scam.

The Supreme Court took strong objection to this, observing that sitting judges had no business giving interviews to TV channels.

The apex court bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had accordingly called for a report from the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court verifying whether or not the judge had given an interview. The top court had further made it clear that if Justice Gangopadhyay has actually given an interview, he would not be allowed to continue hearing the petitions.

Subsequently, the CJI ordered the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to assign the said matter to another bench.

Within a few hours of the top court’s order, Justice Gangopadhyay suo motu passed an order directing the Secretary General of the Supreme Court to produce before him the report and official translation of the interview he gave to the Bengali media.

As a result of this suo motu order, the Supreme Court had to hold a special late evening sitting only to stay the same. A division bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli also observed that such order was ‘against judicial discipline.’

Source: Barandbench

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