Single judge vs division bench: SC stays all further proceedings in CBI probe case before Calcutta HC

The apex court took suo motu cognizance of the unprecedented differences arising between a division bench and a single-judge bench of the high court over a CBI probe

Calcutta High Court (file photo)
Calcutta High Court (file photo)
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IANS

In a special sitting held on Saturday, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court suo moto stayed all the proceedings pending before Calcutta High Court, including directions for CBI probe issued by a single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, in a case involving fake caste certificates for admission to medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal.

“We are issuing notice to the State of West Bengal and the original petitioner before the High Court. We will list the proceedings on Monday again. In the meantime, we will stay all further proceedings before the High Court. We will stay the implementation of the directions of the single-judge directing a reference to the CBI at this stage,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud.

The bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, Surya Kant, and Aniruddha Bose, said the top court will decide on Monday as to what further steps are required to be taken up in the matter.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the West Bengal government, submitted that a special leave petition is being filed by the state before the Supreme Court challenging the decision passed by a single-judge bench of Justice Gangopadhyay ordering the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to "immediately” start investigation in the matter.

Attorney-general R. Venkataramani and solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, the senior law officers representing the Centre, said they intend to assist the apex court on the procedure adhered to by the division bench of the high court in staying the decision without any appeal memo or impugned order passed by the single judge.

Before rising, the top court said that it “will take the charge now”. The matter will be heard next on 29 January.

On Friday, the apex court of the country took suo motu cognizance of the unprecedented differences arising between a division bench and a single-judge bench of Calcutta High Court over a CBI probe into alleged irregularities pertaining to medical college admissions in West Bengal.

In an order passed on Thursday, a single-judge bench of Justice Gangopadhyay "ignored" a decision passed by the division bench of the high court and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to "immediately" start investigation of the matter.

The order passed by the single-judge bench on Wednesday calling for a CBI probe in the matter was stayed by a division bench of justices Soumen Sen and Uday Kumar. Justice Gangopadhyay even accused one of the two judges of the division bench of "acting clearly for some political party".

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