The Supreme Court on Friday declined an early listing of the West Bengal government’s plea against the State High Court’s order allowing the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Directorate of Enforcement to investigate allegations of irregularities and wrong doings in the recruitment of the teachers in schools in the State.
Declining the listing of the matter early next week, a vacation bench of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice K V Viswanathan ordered the listing of the West Bengal government’s petition on July 3 soon after the opening of the court after its ongoing summer vacation. In the meantime, the bench asked advocate Sunil Fernandes, appearing for the West Bengal government, to take an adjournment of the hearing of the matter before the High Court.
“Mr Fernandes, we will protect you by saying you appear before us on third (July) and meanwhile take an adjournment (of the hearing by the High Court). Listen to us. We are saying in open court”, the bench said as Fernandes repeatedly urged the court to list the matter for hearing on June 6 or on the subsequent day.
Asking “What is the urgency?”, Justice Dhulia told Fernandes, “You can always tell the high court that we will next hear it on 3rd July and till then… (seek an adjournment by the High Court). This is mentioning we do not have the files.”
As Fernandes said that they will be in difficulty, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who was present through a video conferencing, in connection with some other matter, objected to it saying how could State be in difficulty or aggrieved by an order impacting an individual.
On Fernandes’s further telling the vacation bench “We need protection, otherwise, CBI and ED will proceed”, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “He is appearing for the state of West Bengal, how can he (the state) be arrested…”
Earlier on May 26, the Supreme court on a challenge by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee had refused to interfere with the High Court order continuing CBI and the ED probe.
However, the top court had stayed the Rs. 25 lakhs fine that the High Court had imposed on Abhishek Banerjee. In the case of Banerjee, the court had posted the matter for further hearing on July 10.
In the face of the Opposition by the Solicitor General Mehta today, Fernandes asked if he (Solicitor General) was opposing the listing of the State government’s petition. Fernandes said that if the Solicitor General would understand the contours of my submissions, he would not get shocked.
As Fernandes took the bench through various orders passed by the top court including by a bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud by which matter was transferred from one High Court judge to another, the vacation bench asked him “Mr Fernandes they have dismissed your review isn’t it? You have filed an appeal?”
Fernandes said, “Yes. We have come against rejection of interim prayer.”
The West Bengal government had sought the review of the April 21, 2023, order of the High Court directing CBI and the ED probe into the alleged school recruitment scam.
West Bengal has approached the top court challenging the May 22 2023 interim order by a Division Bench of the High Court refusing to grant stay of the April 21 order by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, which was subsequently modified by the May 12, 2023, judgment by Justice Amrita Sinha.