A division bench of the high court on Wednesday stayed for four weeks an order issued by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the court directing minister Partha Chatterjee to appear before the CBI for questioning in connection with alleged illegal appointment of teachers and other staff for schools.
The single-judge bench, which issued the order for CBI questioning on Tuesday, also gave liberty to the central investigating agency to arrest Chatterjee if needed.
Chatterjee was education minister when the controversial appointments were made by the West Bengal School Service Commission.
After a brief hearing on Wednesday, the division bench headed by Justice Subrata Talukdar stayed Justice Gangopadhyay’s order and asked a court-appointed committee, chaired by Justice Ranjit Bag, a former judge of Calcutta High Court, to place its final report on May 13.
The division bench made it clear that all orders issued by Justice Gangopadhyay on the recruitment of teachers and other staff for schools would be “in status quo” — they cannot be acted upon — till further orders.
Also, no further hearing of the cases related to the appointments will be held in the court of Justice Gangopadhyay till further orders.
Because of this part of the order, CBI officers will not be allowed to interrogate any current or former office bearer of the School Service Commission in connection with the appointments, as Justice Gangopadhyay had ordered.
Justice Bag had resigned from the committee on health grounds after submitting a preliminary report but the court on Wednesday refused to accept his resignation. The report was submitted in the court of the division bench headed by Justice Talukdar.
Justice Gangopadhyay had on Tuesday afternoon issued an order directing minister Chatterjee to appear before the CBI by 5.30pm the same day.
Justice Talukdar’s bench stayed the order for a day on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, the bench ordered a four-month stay.
Pro-Trinamul lawyers protested the “unethical acts Justice Gangopadhyay” and called for a boycott of his court. The lawyers started a sit-in in front of Justice Gangopadhyay’s courtroom. When some lawyers tried to enter the courtroom, trouble broke out between the two groups of black coats.
Later, the chief justice of the court intervened and called representatives of both groups. Lawyers who attended the meeting said the chief justice told them that he would take action in this regard in the near future.