5 April 2022 6:28 AM GMT
A heated exchange ensued on Tuesday between the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court and one of the counsel representing an appellant in the 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) recruitment scam case regarding the repeated recusals by several Benches from hearing the appeals. Four members of a State appointed recruitment committee had preferred appeals against a Single Judge Bench order...
A heated exchange ensued on Tuesday between the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court and one of the counsel representing an appellant in the 'Group-D' (non-teaching staff) recruitment scam case regarding the repeated recusals by several Benches from hearing the appeals.
Four members of a State appointed recruitment committee had preferred appeals against a Single Judge Bench order directing them to appear before the CBI for questioning pertaining to the alleged illegal appointments of non-teaching staff in State aided schools.
A High powered Committee had been constituted in 2016 by the Education Department of the West Bengal government to oversee the recruitment of close to 13,000 non-teaching staff in government-aided schools. The term of the panel had ended in 2019. However, subsequently, there were widespread allegations that the Commission had made several irregular recruitments close to almost 500 even after the expiry of the panel.
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay on Friday had directed the CBI to call for questioning all members of the High Powered Committee within the course of the day. However the recruitment panel members- S. P. Sinha, Advisor to the West Bengal Central School Service Commission, P. K. Bandyopadhyay, OSD to the MIC of Education Department, A. K. Sarkar, Deputy Director (GA Section), Directorate of School Education Department and T. Panja, Senior Law Officer of the department had skipped the CBI questioning on Friday on the plea that they had preferred an appeal that a Division Bench was scheduled to hear their appeal on Monday.
However, on Monday a Division Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta recused from hearing all the cases pertaining to the alleged recruitment scam on their personal ground.
"We are not inclined to take up the matter on our personal ground", Justice Harish Tandon orally remarked while speaking on behalf of the Bench.
The recusal came days after Justice Gangopadhyay passed a scathing order against the direction issued by the Division Bench to accept an affidavit containing details of the assets possessed by S.P. Sinha, former Advisor of the School Service Commission in a 'sealed cover'.
Right after the recusal by the Division Bench, the counsels appearing on behalf of the members of the recruitment panel moved two other Division Benches to get their appeals heard- one comprising Justice T.S. Sivagnanam and Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and the other comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee, however both had declined to entertain the appeals.
Subsequently, the appeals were listed for hearing before a Division Bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Bivas Pattanayak on Tuesday morning. But Justice Joymalya Bagchi on Tuesday refused to hear the appeals by recording in the order, "Not before this Bench. Place these matters before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice for reassignment."
Clearly agitated over such repeated recusals, a counsel representing one of the appellants approached the Chief Justice's Bench soon after and ventilated his grievances. He informed the Chief Justice that the Division Bench comprising Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Bivas Pattanayak had also recused from hearing the appeals and accordingly remarked, "will the person be remediless?"
In response, the Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava stated, "Yesterday, the whole day this continued..It will come to me on the administrative side, I will look into it". Expressing displeasure at the interruption of Court's proceedings, he further underscored, "This is not the way to disturb Court's proceedings".
In response, the counsel remarked, "We have no other option, had there been some other option, we would not have disturbed proceedings".
The Chief Justice then reprimanded the counsel by stating, "Don't raise your voice, maintain some decorum..for every counsel every matter is urgent. Your matter is not listed"
"One after another judges are releasing the matter, client is not getting justice", the counsel remarked further.
The Chief Justice then questioned, "You were accommodated yesterday?"
In response, the counsel further stated, "But the matter could not be heard, the Hon'ble judges are releasing the matter"
Expressing reservations at the conduct of the counsel, the Chief Justice remarked, "Don't disturb Court proceedings, it will come to me , I will take it up..I think this is the reason the judges are releasing the matter..if you pressurise the Court this way"
The counsel however continued to pester, "Hon'ble judges are releasing the matter..this is the agony of my client"
To this, the Chief Justice stated, "Enough is enough..if you want to convey something to us..convey it is a calm manner..you should not shout. So many juniors are there, they will learn"
The Chief Justice then averred that he would expeditiously assign another Division Bench to hear the appeals.
It may be noted that hearing is currently underway before Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay who is seeking compliance of his prior order directing the recruitment panel members to appear before the CBI.