High drama prevailed at Calcutta High Court, specifically in the courtroom of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, on Wednesday after the judge ordered the removal of another judge of a lower court.
In the process, Gangopadhyay not only summoned the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court to his courtroom, he also set a deadline for the state law minister Moloy Ghatak to appear before him in person. Ghatak obliged, reached Gangopadhyay’s courtroom prior to the set deadline at 5 pm and left in 10 minutes.
A satisfied Justice Gangopadhyay, who indicated that he was glad to see the minister in his courtroom, later altered his previous ruling and extended the deadline for the removal of the lower court judge by another 48 hours.
It all began during a scheduled hearing of the school recruitment scam case under investigation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). While Gangopadhyay had earlier pulled up the agency for dragging its feet on the probe and failing to come up with expected results in a time-bound manner, the judge enquired on Wednesday as to whether the agency was facing any hurdles in its investigation.
Gangopadhyay was informed that the agency was facing hardships on account of orders passed by the acting judge of the special CBI court Arpan Chattopadhyay.
Raising two specific instances of the judge’s action where the agency probe got effectively stonewalled, the CBI stated that Chattopadhyay added the Calcutta Police as party to the case started on the basis of complaint lodged by scam accused Kuntal Ghosh. This has led to the city police’s frequent summoning of the agency officers and effectively hindering investigation progress.
Additionally, the agency alleged that instead of treating four government school teachers and beneficiaries of the scam, who bribed their way in but later spilled the beans before the CBI, as witnesses to the case, the judge termed them as accused and threw them in jail. CBI said this has thwarted the possibility of other such beneficiaries to come forward and cooperate with the agency in its investigation.
Gangopadhyay summoned the court’s Registrar General only to be informed that the transfer order of the judge in question has already been processed but the file currently remains stuck since August 25 in the chamber of the minister who is yet to sign on the mandatory transfer papers.
Gangopadhyay initially ordered that the transfer formalities must be completed within October 4 and barred Chattopadhyay from hearing CBI matters in the meanwhile. He also issued summons for Ghatak to appear before him and explain the delay. Once in court, the minister informed Gangopadhyay that he fell ill and was in hospital since August 25 and has been advised to rest by his doctors after he was discharged.
“I am happy to see you in court. I normally see you in the corridors of state power,” Gangopadhyay greeted Ghatak. “Please do not misunderstand my intentions to see you here.”
When the judge asked him to release the file to ensure that transfer takes place within the stipulated date, Ghatak requested for an additional 48 hours to get the job done. “I would be moving to my constituency in Asansol on Friday and from there to Delhi on Sunday to participate in a political programme of my party,” the minister cited as reasons for his request.
Acknowledging the minister’s request Gangopadhyay revised his earlier order and set October 6 as the deadline for the transfer of the judge.