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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Unprecedented: Editorial on discord involving two different benches at Calcutta High Court

The impact of adversity among judges could deepen the gathering public anxiety. The indecorous exchange in the Calcutta High Court is hopefully an aberration. There must be no occasion for an encore

The Editorial Board Published 01.02.24, 07:15 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

A court of law exists to resolve conflict of varied hues. It is rare for a court to fall victim to conflict itself. Unfortunately, the Calcutta High Court has been a witness to such an unprecedented discord involving two different benches as well as the state advocate-general. It all began when Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay chose to ignore the stay ordered by a division bench led by Justice Soumen Sen in a case related to MBBS admission. Angry words were exchanged in the court room along with — astonishingly — the casting of political insinuations. Calcutta High Court’s chief justice, T.S. Sivagnanam, has been anguished by what, in his words, is “an untoward situation”: he has pledged to bring back normalcy. The Supreme Court has, quite correctly, intervened in the matter. In cognisance of such an unwarranted clash between members of the judiciary, the highest court has set up a bench — it is led by the Chief Justice of India — to hear the matter itself.

The law is supposed to be beyond reproach. As an institution upholding law, the court — any court — should stay above perceptible divisions. Members of the court should emulate the high standards set by the judiciary. The voicing of differences in public or interventions that can lead to conflict between judicial benches is unjustifiable. The lack of amity among brother judges does not sully merely the court. It has wider ramifications. Mr Sivagnanam was alert to this possibility when he stated that the rancour between the judges that dented the image of the Calcutta High Court could have a “long-term effect on the public at large.” The impact, an undesirable one, could be the erosion of the people’s trust in the court of law. This, in turn, has deeper connotations. The application of the rule of law — one of the basic tenets of the compact between law and society — could be weakened as a result. Already, the strain between the judiciary and the government of the day, principally on the hotly-contested collegium system, is a matter of public record. The impact of adversity among judges could deepen the gathering public anxiety. The indecorous exchange in the Calcutta High Court is hopefully an aberration. There must be no occasion for an encore.

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