No business giving interviews to media on pending cases: SC to judgestext_fields
Judges have no business giving interviews to the media on matters pending before them, the Supreme Court said on Monday questioning the conduct of a Calcutta high court judge who gave a TV interview, speaking on politically sensitive cases in West Bengal being adjudicated by his bench.
A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud sought a report from the Calcutta High Court on whether one of its judges, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, gave an interview to ABP Ananda as alleged by Trinamool Congress National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary teachers in West Bengal.
The apex Court was hearing an appeal by Banerjee against a High Court order that had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to question him in connection with the bribe-for-job scam in the West Bengal school education department.
“I just want to say [that] judges have no business granting interviews on matters which are pending,” Chandrachud orally remarked. “If he said that about the petitioner, he has no business participating in the proceedings. We are absolutely clear on that..There has to be some process”, according to Bar and Bench.
According to Banerjee, Justice Gangopadhyay had given an interview to ABP Ananda in September last year and had expressed his “dislike” for him.
In response to the petitioner, the court said that if Gangopadhyay had given the interview, he could not hear the case and a different bench would have to take up the case, reports Bar and Bench.
“We will not touch the investigation or pass any order to preclude an agency from investigating the matter. But when a judge gives an opinion on the petitioner in a TV debate, he cannot hear that case,” it said. “The high court chief then has to constitute a new bench.”
CJI directed the registrar of the Calcutta high court to file the affidavit before it by Thursday, April 28. The matter will be heard on Friday, April 29.
The Supreme Court last week had stayed the High Court order asking the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to question Banerjee till April 24. The interim relief will continue till the next date of hearing.
A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud took umbrage at the video interview of Justice Gangopadhyay, who has given at least 10 orders directing the CBI to investigate irregularities in the recruitment by West Bengal School Service Commission.
In an interview to ABP Ananda aired last September, Justice Gangopdhyay justified his orders on a CBI probe, saying there appeared “rampant corruption” in the teachers’ recruitment process.
The high court judge also said Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee could face a jail term of three months for alleging that a section of judiciary was hand in gloves with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Banerjee on Monday brought the TV interview and its transcript on record before the Supreme Court bench, citing an order of the high court judge asking CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to probe the TMC leader in connection with the recruitment scam case.
Justice Gangopadhyay was appointed as the additional judge of the Calcutta high court on May 2, 2018, and started functioning as a permanent judge of the high court on July 30, 2020. This is not the first time that Justice Gangopadhyay has been the centre of debate in political circles of the state.