Supreme Court Denies Urgent Hearing for Petition Challenging High Court’s Verdict on Interrogation of Trinamool Congress Leader

In a recent development, the Supreme Court has rejected a request for an urgent hearing on a special leave petition challenging the Calcutta High Court’s decision. The High Court had previously denied interim relief and granted permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) to interrogate Abhishek Banerjee, the national general secretary of Trinamool Congress. This interrogation was in relation to the primary teachers’ recruitment scam in the state.

Advocate-on-Record Sunil Fernandes mentioned the matter before a Vacation Bench comprising Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice K.V. Viswanathan. Fernandes urged the Apex Court to list the case for the following week, claiming that the High Court’s order was passed on May 18 without considering the defense of the state government, on a public holiday.

Fernandes informed the court that a Division Bench of the High Court had already rejected their plea for interim relief against the May 18 verdict. When asked why urgent listing was necessary, Fernandes stated that the main appeal in the case was scheduled for the next week. Without the protection of an interim order, the CBI and ED would proceed with their investigation.

The Supreme Court then requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared virtually, to present his views on the matter. Mehta had previously represented the Central agencies involved in the case. He recalled Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Counsel for the state of West Bengal, appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, seeking the continuation of a previously granted stay order by the Supreme Court, citing difficulties for the state.

The Solicitor General questioned the State’s claim of facing difficulties if the CBI conducted the investigation, stating that it was not the state government’s position but rather that of the accused. Mehta highlighted that the Supreme Court had granted the accused the liberty to seek available remedies. Therefore, the Apex Court refused to extend the stay on the High Court’s order.

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The Vacation Bench agreed with the Solicitor General’s observation that urgency might exist for the individuals accused in the case but not for the State. They noted that the matter had been regularly heard by this Bench, as it was assigned to them. Consequently, the Apex Court directed the Counsel to mention the matter before the Chief Justice of India on July 3.

The Bench further advised Fernandes to seek an adjournment from the Calcutta High Court until July 3, as the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. Fernandes requested the bench to pass an appropriate order or fix a specific date for the hearing. However, the Vacation Bench clarified that it could not list a matter for hearing after the vacation period, as only the Chief Justice of India, being the master of roster and the administrative head, typically handles orally mentioned cases for early hearings.

Therefore, during the vacation, the senior-most judge on a bench takes on this responsibility solely to list cases for urgent hearings within this period.

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