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Resigning from the Calcutta High Court, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay says he hasn’t decided on his future

Amidst rumours that he would enter politics, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta High Court resigned from his position. The notoriously contentious judge was scheduled to retire in August of this year. But on Tuesday, he submitted his resignation to President Draupadi Murmu and left his position. To Bar and Bench, the judge attested to the development.

“I’ve written the president a three-line resignation letter. ”I have stated that I am leaving for personal reasons,” he declared. The judge also disclosed to Bar and Bench that he has not yet made up his mind regarding his political career. “I never disclosed to anyone that I would be entering politics and running for the Lok Sabha. All of them are stories. Justice Gangopadhyay stated that a decision has not yet been made in this regard.  On March 3, the judge announced on a TV programme that he was leaving his position and going into politics. Recently, Justice Gangopadhyay has been deeply involved in various matters.

He has been accusing Justice Soumen Sen of “acting for a political party in the state” lately. This occurred following Justice Gangopadhyay’s decision compelling the West Bengal Police to turn over case-related papers to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by Justice Sen, a member of a Division Bench. The issue was subsequently brought up again by Justice Gangopadhyay, who said that he had not been told of the division bench’s stay order and directed the Advocate General to turn over the case files to the CBI.

Interestingly, the plea asked for no guidance regarding a CBI investigation. Nonetheless, the judge mandated an investigation by the CBI’s Special Investigation Team (SIT). Justice Gangopadhay further claimed in his ruling that Justice Sen had summoned Justice Amrita Sinha, who was presiding over cases involving TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, to his chambers and informed her that Banerjee has a bright future in politics and that she should not be alarmed.

The Supreme Court shifted the proceedings to itself after taking cognizance of the Division Bench order’s disobedience, per Justice Gangopadhyay’s decision. Since taking up her position as a High Court judge in May 2018, Justice Gangopadhyay has been under fire for allegedly disobeying stricter bench rulings, discussing political matters with TV stations, and even giving orders to the Supreme Court Registry.

Judge Gangopadhyay spoke with a local Bengali news channel in April 2023 about the involvement of TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee in the “School Jobs for Cash Scam,” as he was reviewing a number of petitions related to the scheme. The Supreme Court voiced significant disapproval of this, noting that it was improper for sitting justices to be interviewed by television networks.

As a result, the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and the other members of the upper court bench requested a report from the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court to confirm if the judge had conducted an interview. The highest court had additionally stated that Justice Gangopadhyay would not be permitted to continue hearing the petitions if he had truly conducted an interview.

The Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court was then instructed by the CJI to transfer the aforementioned case to a different bench. Judge Gangopadhyay suo motu issued an order shortly after the top court’s directive, requiring the Supreme Court Secretary General to present the report and official translation of the interview he had with the Bengali media.

This suo motu order required the Supreme Court to convene a special late-night session in order for it to remain unchanged. A division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and AS Bopanna further noted that the ruling in question was “in violation of judicial discipline.”

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra

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