Clashing Calcutta HC Orders | Day 2: Supreme Court transfers case concerning issuance of fake SC/ST certificates to itselfSuo motu cognisance of clashing Calcutta High Court Orders
Today, the Special Bench of the Supreme Court comprising CJI D.Y. Chandrachud with justices Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose formally transferred the case involving the Order-tussle between Justice Abhijit Gangopadhayay and Justice Soumen Sen of the Calcutta High Court to itself.
Last week, the two High Court judges had passed conflicting orders in a case about the issuance of fake caste certificates in West Bengal in medical admissions.
Previously, in an unusual Saturday hearing, the Special Bench had stayed all proceedings at the High Court.
On 24 January 2024, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhayay of the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI probe in a case alleging the issuance of fake caste certificates to secure medical admissions in West Bengal.
Subsequently, a Division Bench of the High Court led by Justice Soumen Sen stayed the single-judge bench Order. The next day, Justice Gangopadhayay issued another Order “ignoring” the Division Bench Order. He highlighted procedural discrepancies in the appeal process and accused Justice Sen of political bias and misconduct.
On 26 January 2024, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter and constituted a Special Bench of five judges led by the Chief Justice to adjudicate the case.
We cannot impinge the dignity of the High Court: CJI Chandrachud
Today, the CJI-led Special five-judge bench was expected to hear the case on merits. However, in a hearing which lasted less than five minutes, the Bench transferred the case to itself and asked the parties to file their pleadings within three weeks.
Senior Advocate Maninder Singh flagged the main issue in the initial petition filed before the Calcutta High Court—the issuance of fake SC/ST certificates in the state. The Court directed that an affidavit be filed detailing the number of such cases.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state of West Bengal raised concerns about Justice Gangopadhayay’s conduct. “The learned judge continues to take these kinds of matters…this is a problem,” he said. “Your lordships should think about what should be done because in the future also he is going to do the same thing.”
“Casting allegations against either the single judge or the Division Bench is not appropriate,” the Chief said. He assured the parties that the court would deal with the matter appropriately. “Anything we do here must not impinge upon the dignity of the High Court,” he said.
The case is expected to be heard again on 19 February 2024.