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Question mark over who will hear West Bengal job scam cases after SC ruling: report

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Question mark over who will hear West Bengal job scam cases after SC ruling: report
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Kolkata: The Supreme Court's order transferring the cases against Trinamool Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee from Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court caused some confusion on Friday.

The cases relate to the alleged multi-crore scam in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in state-run schools in West Bengal.

The initial confusion that continued for some time since the news was flashed was over whether the Supreme Court's order pertained to all the cases related to the alleged recruitment scams or to just those connected with Abhishek Banerjee.

It was Calcutta High Court advocate and CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya who pointed out that there is a wrong perception that all the cases related to the recruitment scam have been transferred from the bench of Justice Gangopadhyay.

Finally, the confusion ended on Friday evening after the Supreme Court order was uploaded and it was clear that only two cases have been transferred from the bench of Justice Gangopadhyay.

There was speculation about how long Justice Gangopadhyay will continue with the hearing of the remaining cases.

This arose from a statement by Justice Gangopadhyay who had himself expressed apprehension on this count. "Right now, two cases have been transferred from my bench. I doubt that the remaining cases might also be transferred from my bench on similar grounds," he said late on Friday evening.

A Calcutta High Court officer said on condition of anonymity that period reassignments of the subjects of cases for the judges are done as part of the practice by the Chief Justice or acting Chief Justice.

"Such a reassignment of subjects is due and, in that process, it is possible that Justice Gangopadhyay is assigned any subject other than education," he said.

On this possibility, several people, especially those deprived candidates agitating in Kolkata, have raised the question on whether the trend of "expeditious actions and orders" set by Justice Gangopadhyay will be maintained by the judge who might be given the assignment of hearing the recruitment scam cases.

According to former advocate general of West Bengal Jayanta Mitra, although the transfer of cases was unfortunate there is no reason to be upset over the development.

"If the cases are argued firmly on the basis of solid legal points, there is no reason to apprehend that justice will be delayed in any bench headed by any judge," he said.

Calcutta High Court counsel Kaushik Gupta feels that it is a dangerous trend for democracy when the "faith for justice" is entrusted to "one judge" rather than the "entire judicial system."

"In fact, Justice Gangopadhyay himself observed that it is not possible that he will continue for ever and that does not mean that his exit will stall the entire judicial process. So, those who are nurturing or propagating the idea that transfer of a particular case or some cases from one bench to another will mean the end of justice, they do not have even a basic idea of the legal and judicial system and the concept of justice," Gupta said.

Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Asok Kunar Ganguly has raised the question of how far the apex court was within its rights to direct the transfer of these two cases from the bench of Justice Gangopadhyay.

"Probably the apex court has its own reasons to give such an order. With due respect to the Supreme Court, I am saying that the transfer of any case from one bench to the other in any high court is the prerogative of the chief justice of that high court. Under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, any order by any high court can be turned down by the Supreme Court. But there is no provision for the apex court to decide which bench of a high court will hear which matter or case," he said.

However, he accepted the Supreme Court's observation that judges have no business to give interviews to news channels on matters pending before them.

Meanwhile, infighting has started in the Congress especially over the fact that in the transferred cases the counsel representing Abhishek Banerjee was Congress leader and senior counsel of the apex court, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

State Congress leader, Kaustav Bagchi, who is himself a counsel of the Calcutta High Court, questioned Singhvi on his moral justification to represent the Trinamool Congress leader in this case.

"Singhvi might put forward the same old argument of professional compulsion of a practicing counsel. But he must not forget that besides being a practicing counsel he is also a senior Congress leader. The ordinary Congress workers in West Bengal have immense difficulty in accepting such people as leaders. The party leader is at liberty to take any action against me for making such a comment," he said.

IANS with superficial edits

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TAGS:Abhishek BanerjeeWest Bengal job scamSC ruling
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