Judges Have No Business Granting Interviews To News Channels On Ongoing Proceedings: SC Asks Calcutta High Court To Verify
The Supreme Court today directed the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court to personally verify from Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay whether he had given an interview to a news channel, and asked the Registrar to file an affidavit on or before Friday.
The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha said that "Judges have no business in granting interviews to news channels on ongoing proceedings". The CJI further remarked that the Court is not getting into the merits of the SLP before it and just wants to examine if the judge had given the interview.
Appearing for the Appellant, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi took the Court through the translated transcript of the interview given to the news channel ABP Ananda by the judge of Calcutta High Court, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. "This is not done... this is a report of record of proceedings and the statement is not clarified or revoked", he said and added that "this was said in presence of our lawyers. I can be held in contempt if I am making these statements" stated the Senior Advocate.
On considering the report submitted before the Court, CJI DY Chandrachud remarked that a "judge cannot clarify everything which is reported." The CJI then said that the Court is not getting into the merits of the matter and just wanted to know if the judge was interviewed.
The Court in its order noted that the petitioner has relied on an annexed copy of the translated transcript of the interview of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay given to ABP Ananda on September 19, 2022. The Court directed that the Registrar General of the High Court of Calcutta personally verify from Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay whether he had been interviewed by Sange Suman of ABP Ananda and to file an affidavit before this Court.
The Court observed that if the Judge has said about the petitioner what has been alleged in the petition, the Judge should not participate in the ongoing proceedings. The question is whether a judge who has made statements like these about a political personality should continue with the hearing. "There has to be some process", the CJI said while adjourning the case to Friday.
On April 17, 2023, the Chief Justice-led bench had upon mentioning for early hearing by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi the Court stayed all further actions on the directions in the impugned order of the single judge of Calcutta High Court. Further, the Court noted the Petitioner's submissions that the directions in the High Court's order were wholly extraneous to the reliefs.
The petitioner had submitted to the Court that the single judge had granted reliefs extraneous to what is sought in the petition and that TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee was not impleaded as a party to the proceedings. The Calcutta High Court in its order 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 petitioner before the Apex Court, Abhishek Banerjee.
The SLP before the Court relates to the primary teachers' recruitment scam case and impugns the order passed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court.
Cause Title: Abhishek Banerjee v. Soumen Nandy & Ors. [Diary No.15883/2023]