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Supreme Court stays CBI probe order on supernumerary posts in SSC case

Naming the Trinamul Congress, the judge said: ‘I will ask the Election Commission to withdraw the symbol of the party.’

R. Balaji And Tapas Ghosh | Published 26.11.22, 07:51 AM
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

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The Supreme Court on Friday stayed Calcutta High Court’s orders directing a CBI probe into the purported motive behind an application filed by the West Bengal School Service Commission before a single-judge bench seeking permission to create supernumerary posts and certain other relief with regard to alleged illegal recruitment of teachers. 

The bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli stayed the concurred directions passed by a single-judge bench on November 23 and upheld by a division bench on November 24, upon an urgent request made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi during Friday’s morning mentioning time.

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The CJI, after briefly hearing Singhvi, passed the direction: “On 23 November 2022, the Single Judge of the High Court held, prima facie, that the application filed by the Commission is a ‘benami application’. The Single Judge proceeded to enquire of the counsel as to whether or not he has drafted the application. Though a request appears to have been made before the High Court to withdraw the application, the High Court declined to allow the withdrawal on the ground that it would enquire into ‘who are pulling the strings from behind such application’.”

The orders of the single-judge bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay were called into question before a division bench of the high court.

That bench dismissed the appeals. The apex court was apprised that the single-judge bench was continuing to hear the proceedings.

The Supreme Court said: “Pending further orders, the orders of the Single Judge dated 23 November 2022 and the order of the Division Bench dated 24 November 2022 shall remain stayed. No further consequential steps shall be taken in pursuance of the impugned orders of the Single Judge which have been affirmed by the Division Bench. The direction to the CBI to investigate at whose behest the interim application was filed before the Single Judge shall accordingly remain stayed.”

Earlier in the day, West Bengal education secretary Manish Jain had appeared before Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the high court at 10.30am.

The judge asked Jain under whose instruction the school service commission was asked to create supernumerary posts for the candidates who were denied teaching jobs so that the persons who got their jobs illegally could continue in service.

Jain said education minister Bratya Basu had instructed him to take such a decision.

While replying to further queries from Justice Gangopadhyay, the bureaucrat said the government’s legal cell and legal advisers, including advocate-general S.N. Mookherjee, had endorsed the decision.

Jain also said the council of ministers had approved the decision at a cabinet meeting.

In response, the judge said: “How can a government take a decision to save the persons who obtained the jobs illegally? How can a government ignore a court directive and take a decision on its own?”

The judge continued: “Then I have to say democracy is not in the hands of proper people. I will issue contempt notices against all the ministers of the state. They will have to come to this court and face my questions.”

Naming the Trinamul Congress, the judge said: “I will ask the Election Commission to withdraw the symbol of the party. I know some other political parties will be aggrieved, but I don’t care. The incident will create history, where every people of the nation will see how far the judiciary can go."

When Justice Gangopadhyay was speaking, a state panel lawyer informed him that the Supreme Court had stayed the CBI probe order he had passed on Wednesday.

In Wednesday’s order, the judge had directed the CBI to find out the person or persons who had come up with the idea of creating supernumerary posts.

The judge had directed the school education secretary to appear before him on Thursday.

Education minister Bratya Basu later told The Telegraph: “After the state cabinet had taken the decision (on creating supernumerary posts), I told the education secretary to take legal opinion. But what the honourable justice has sought to know from him or what the education secretary briefed him, it has all happened in the court. These are legal issues, involving legal explanations. I don’t have anything to say on this at this moment. If any response is to be given, it will be given from the appropriate quarters.”

Last updated on 26.11.22, 07:51 AM
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