Justice Gangopadhyay vs. Justice Sen in the MBBS Admission Irregularities case, SC orders to list after three weeks

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Today (January 29, 2024), the Supreme Court (SC) of India transferred the case from Calcutta High Court to itself that went through unusual developments after a single judge bench of the HC ordered against the stay order passed by a division bench on the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe in a case of alleged irregularities in the admission of MBBS candidates. The matter was heard today (Monday) by a five-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice of India DY ChandrachudJustice Sanjiv KhannaJustice Surya KantJustice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice BR Gavai. The bench ordered to list the matter after three weeks. During the proceedings today, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the State of West Bengal and TMC (Trinamool Congress) MP Abhishek Banerjee respectively. In a special hearing on Saturday, the SC took suo moto cognizance on the matter titled, “In Re: Orders of Calcutta High Court dated 24.01.2024 and 25.01.2024 and ancillary issues”. While taking suo moto cognizance, the CJI said, “We will take this up on Monday, took this up now to pass this order. We have taken charge now”. 

The controversy between Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay and Justice Soumen Sen was initiated in a case of alleged irregularities in the admission of MBBS candidates to medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal. Initially (on January 24, 2024), a single-judge bench (Justice Gangopadhyay) of Calcutta High Court was hearing a plea filed by MBBS candidate Itisha Soren alleging the issuance of fake caste certificates to gain admission in medical colleges and hospitals in the state. A single-judge bench ordered a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities under the reservation category. During the proceedings, Justice Gangopadhyay also slammed the West Bengal Police and the State government for the same. On January 25, 2024 (Thursday), the matter was further mentioned before a division bench, comprising Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Uday Kumar, by Advocate General Kishore Datta stating that the petitioner did not seek to transfer the case to the CBI. In context to this, a division bench stayed the order of the single-judge bench.

In a consequent order, a single-judge bench of Justice Gangopadhyay stated that the order of the division bench of Justice Sen and Justice Kumar was illegal and had to be ignored. He passed scathing remarks against Justice Sen. The order of Justice Gangopadhyay reads, “I have no other option but to ignore the order of the said Division Bench as the order has been passed in continuation of the illegal appeal void ab initio. I have ignored the said illegal order passed by the said Division Bench for the reasons as has been stated…including the ground of ‘interested person’ Hon’ble Justice Soumen Sen.”  He added, “Justice Sen is clearly working for some political party in this state; therefore, if the Hon’ble Supreme Court thinks so, then there is a need to re-look at the orders passed in cases related to the state. What Justice Sen has done today is to further his personal interest to save some political party in power in this state. Therefore, his actions clearly amount to misconduct.”