A vacation bench of Justices J K Maheshwari and P S Narasimha said it would not, for the time being, interfere with the Calcutta HC’s order directing continuance of the probe into Banerjee’s alleged role in the teacher recruitment scam but agreed to stay the imposition of the cost, which it felt was excessive. The bench posted a detailed hearing of Banerjee’s petition in July second week.
Appearing for Banerjee, senior advocate A M Singhvi said the case was assigned, on the directions of the Supreme Court, from Justice Avijit Gangopadhyay to Justice Amrita Sinha for considering the entire issue afresh. However, the new judge did not consider the core issue – whether Banerjee could have been roped in because of his public speech without there being any evidence of his involvement in the scam.
Justice Maheshwari said, “The controversy relating to re-assignment of the case is over. The new Judge accorded you the full opportunity to argue and point out issues. After considering the matter in detail, she has passed a reasoned order for continuance of the investigation. Can we interfere with the order?”
Justice Narasimha, who was part of the bench which on April 28 had ordered reassignment of Banerjee’s case, said, “Every point you raised is considered on merit by the Judge before rejecting them. Imposition of heavy cost may be unwarranted, though it cannot be said that no cost can be imposed. The order is very balanced.”
The SC on April 28 had directed shifting of the case from Justice Gangopadhyay for giving an interview relating to Banerjee while hearing the case and asked the HC acting CJ to re-assign the case to another Judge who would take up all applications moved by Banerjee.
The case was reassigned to Justice Sinha, who in a hard-hitting 23-page order on May 18 on applications moved by Banerjee, had rejected them and imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh.
Banerjee said that the inherent bias on the part of Justice Gangopadhyay, as reflected in the passing of the April 13 order, was taken note by the SC before directing shifting of the case from Justice Gangopadhyay to another Judge. This reason alone was good enough for recall of the order directing the CBI and ED investigation against Banerjee, without there being any material whatsoever to link him to the scam except for a public speech that had formed the basis of the April 13 order, Singhvi said.