Breaking: SC Directs Transfer Of Case From Calcutta HC Judge Who Gave Interview To Media, Says No One Would Be Allowed To Browbeat Judges
The Supreme Court today perused the report of the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court about the interview given by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court and directed the Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to transfer the case before Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay to any other judge of the High Court.
At the outset, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the petitioner submitted, "Subject to the report, the orders should go", referring to the report of the Registrar.
"Should we have a look at the report and re-list the matter?", asked CJI Chandrachud. The Bench then went through the report, discussed it among themselves at length and then passed its order.
Thereafter, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted, "I have something to say, this is very disquieting. There is a pattern going on. If an order is passed against a particular dispensation, Judges are targeted".
There was another Judge, his courtroom was locked, even against Justice Gangopadhyay, posters were pasted. This is demoralizing. Please say something which may not have a demoralising effect. People barge into the courtroom and abuse judges. Petitioner in this case criticised the Judge on a public platform, he submitted.
"The only reason we are transferring the case is because of the transcript of the interview, nothing else", Chief Justice Chandrachud clarified.
The petitioner names another judge at a public rally and threats him. I am not on this matter or this judge. The system needs to be protected, Tushar Mehta submitted.
Senior Advocate Ranjith Kumar appearing for one of the respondents submitted that no judges should feel that they are cowed down. Either by physical aggression or character assassination. It may not embolden others to do this to any other Judge, Tushar Mehta added.
"No one should be allowed to browbeat Judges. There is no question about that. As a Chief Justice, if I come across that, I will take it up on the administrative side", CJI Chandrachud responded.
Putting posters with defamatory material outside Judges' residences. Please see the posters. I think this deserves to be seen by Your Lordships. Please have a look for my satisfaction, Tushar Mehta said trying to hand over a document.
The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha in their order said, Pursuant to the order of this court dated 24 April, 2023, the registry has placed an affidavit of 27 April 2023 filled by the Registrar General of the High Court. Paragraph 5 of the Affidavit of the Registrar General states thus... We have considered the note prepared by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay and we have also perused the transcript of the interview. The transcript has been authenticated on April 26 by the interpreting officer on the original side of the Calcutta High Court.
"Having considered the transcript, we direct that the Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court shall reassign the pending proceedings in the case to some other judge of the Calcutta High Court. The judge to whom the proceedings are assigned by the Acting Chief Justice will be at liberty to take up all applications which may be moved in that regard", the Bench ordered.
On April 24, 2023, the Supreme Court directed the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court to file an affidavit after personally verifying from Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay whether he had been interviewed by Mr Suman De of ABP Ananda and had remarked that "Judges have no business in granting interviews to news channels on ongoing proceedings".
On the last date, Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of the petitioner read the translated transcript of the interview dated 19 September 2022 of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay and the Court orally observed that if the Judge has said about the petitioner what has been alleged, the Judge should not participate in the ongoing proceedings.
It is alleged by the petitioner that the single Judge of the Calcutta High Court granted reliefs extraneous to what was sought in the petition and had directed the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation to file a report of the investigation regarding a public speech stated to have been made by the TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, who was not impleaded as a party to the proceedings before the High Court.
On April 17, 2023, the Chief Justice-led bench had stayed all further actions on the directions in the impugned order of the single judge of Calcutta High Court.
Cause Title: Abhishek Banerjee v. Soumen Nandy & Ors. [Diary No.15883/2023]