Supreme Court Halts 'Caste Certificate Scam' Probe: West Bengal Challenges High Court's Move

Mainstream
29-Jan-2024
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A legal tussle unfolds as the West Bengal government challenges a Calcutta High Court single-judge order directing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into an alleged "caste certificate scam." The state contends that the move "tends to shake the public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary" and questions the judge's impartiality.

The issue originated from a petition alleging widespread issuance of fake caste certificates in West Bengal, allowing individuals to secure admissions to medical courses. Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay ordered the West Bengal Police to hand over case documents to the CBI, prompting a swift challenge from the state.

A division bench initially stayed the single-judge's order, leading to further controversy. Justice Gangopadhyay, unaware of the stay, reiterated his order to hand over case papers to the CBI. The division bench then set aside the single-judge order, resulting in Justice Gangopadhyay's directive to "ignore" the division bench's decision.

This judicial turmoil prompted the Supreme Court to intervene. In a special Saturday sitting, a five-judge bench, including Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, restrained the CBI probe, citing concerns about bringing the "administration of justice into disrepute." The West Bengal government argues that the single-judge's observations lack "courtesy and good faith," and judicial restraint has been disregarded.

"The observations, insinuations, and aspersions lack courtesy and good faith, while Judicial restraint has been thrown to the winds," reads the state's appeal.

The West Bengal government further contends that Justice Gangopadhyay formed conclusions about police incompetence without supporting evidence, breaching judicial propriety.

The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday for further directions, addressing the unprecedented situation that has stirred controversy within the judiciary.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University