Single Judge vs Division Bench: Supreme Court’s 5-Judge Bench stays Calcutta HC’s Single Bench order defying Division Bench stay on CBI Probe in Fake Caste Certificates Case

Single Bench vs Division Bench

Supreme Court: Taking suo motu cognizance, the 5-Judge Bench comprising Dr. DY Chandrachud, CJI Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has stayed the order in which the Single Judge Bench of the Calcutta High Court directed the handover of papers related to the case of alleged issuance of fake caste certificates to the CBI, despite the stay order of a division bench.


The case relates to allegations of issuance of fake caste certificates and use of those for admission in Medical colleges. In an interesting turn of events, Abhijit Gangopadhyay, J. of Calcutta High Court, wrote and elaborate order on the morning of 24.01.2024, directing the State Police to handover the papers relating to the matter to the CBI for further investigation. He stated that,

“The police of this State have not been able to arrest one culprit Sk. Sajahan in recent Sandeshkhali raid by E.D. who dared to touch the ED officials of this country which means that the Union of India has been touched by some miscreants. Therefore, I cannot place any faith upon such police authority, though I believe that they are efficient enough if they are allowed to work. But in several matters it has come to light that police authority fails to take right steps to investigate crimes. Therefore, this matter is to be investigated by CBI.”

Gauging that the State of Weste Bengal may move before the Supreme Court, Gangopadhyay, J said that the State should first disclose the total amount that has been spent by it for resisting the orders of the Calcutta High Court in respect of CBI investigations by way of appeals and application in Supreme Court in education appointment matters. He said,

“In a writ application where a corrupt practice is apparent the prayer or not of a petitioner cannot act as a deterrent in the exercise of a writ court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, even without the prayer of the writ petitioner this court can pass an order for thorough investigation into the matter. The SIT constituted by this court in respect of education appointment matters will investigate the matter and if necessary, if it finds any money trail, Enforcement Directorate will also come into the picture for investigation into the money trail.”

Stating that the entire thing for last three years is to be thoroughly investigated by the CBI as to issuance of reserved category certificates and admission of candidates with such certificates in Medical colleges, Gangopadhyay, J observed that,

“When a scam is peeping its head, it is the duty of the court to pass appropriate order for a thorough investigation in the matter irrespective of whether the writ petitioner has prayed for a CBI inquiry or not.”

However, on the same day, the Division Bench of Uday Kumar and Soumen Sen, JJ stayed the said ordered after observing that,

“Unless there is a prayer in the writ petition for C.B.I. investigation or a case is made out for C.B.I. investigation, the right of the State to conduct fair and impartial investigation by its agencies cannot be lightly interfered with as it would result in disruption of the co-operative federal structure of the country. Unless the autonomy of the State to investigate into the issue is decided against the State, no such direction could have been passed. Moreover, the State wanted to demonstrate the steps taken by the State with regard to the complaints received by the State regarding issuance of fake caste certificates and the said investigation is still continuing.”

Hence, the division bench observed that as there is no pleading in the writ petition for a C.B.I. enquiry, the Court cannot travel beyond the pleadings.

However, despite this order of the division bench, the single-judge bench of Gangopadhyay, J proceeded to allow the handover of the case papers to the CBI on afternoon of 24.01.2024.

Supreme Court’s order

This turn of events led to a 5-Judge Bench comprising Dr. DY Chandrachud, CJI Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, JJ taking suo motu cognizance of the matter and assembling on 27.01.2024, Saturday, for hearing the matter “In Re: Orders of Calcutta High Court dated 24.01.2024 and 25.01.2024 and ancillary issues”.

The Court issued notice to the original petitioner before the High Court at Calcutta, the State of West Bengal and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Huzefa Ahmadi, senior counsel, and Standing Counsel Astha Sharma accepted notice on behalf of the State of West Bengal.

[In Re: Orders of Calcutta High Court dated 24.01.2024 and 25.01.2024 and ancillary issues, SMW (C) No(s).1/2024, order dated 27.01.2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Respondents: Mr. R. Venkataramani, Attorney General for India Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG Mr. Kapil Sibal, Sr. Adv. Mr. Huzefa Ahmadi, Sr. Adv. Mr. Sunil Fernandez, Sr. Adv. Mr. Sanjay Basu, Adv. Ms. Astha Sharma, AOR Mr. Nipun Saxena, Adv. Ms. Anju Thomas, Adv. Ms. Aprajita Jamwal, Adv. Ms. Mantika Haryani, Adv. Mr. Shreyas Awasthi, Adv. Ms. Diksha Dadu, Adv. Ms. Rashmi Singh, Adv. Mr. Himanshu Chakravarty, Adv. Ms. Ripul Swati Kumari, Adv. Ms. Muskan Surana, Adv. Ms. Lihzu Shiney Konyak, Adv. Ms. Anvita Dwivedi, Adv. Mr. Arka, Adv. Mr. Srisanya Bandopadhyay, Adv.

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  • It is being observed that this particular judge is against any state agencies investigating any case. He has more faith in the central investigation agencies whose partiality is proved beyond doubt and totally established. So his bias is best understood in his judgements.

  • I am very Happy with the stand taken by the Supreme Court. It seemed that some Judges of the Kolkata High Court were trying to cover up the Malpractices of the State Government

  • Isn’t it surprising what a Single bench HC Judge said about Kolkata Politicians, Police Team track records & d violence arson regularly seen in the State but our Judiciary tends to turn a blind eye to such issues.As even the violence,arson & rape by ruling Party goons post last State elections JUSTICE is still pending..& it seems in India Justice is ALWAYS DELAYED as few Opposition Politicians Petitioners Advocates like Sibal, Singhvi, Ahmadi etc try TWISTING & TURNING the case.. SHOULDN’T SC even THINK on these lines before giving relief to a rogue State Parties petitions.

  • Like Nira Radia Tape one more RIP in time!!!!!

  • The context of defiance of the single judge of the Div bench is what has been expressed as ” ancillary matters” by Supreme Court.
    It is not a normal case of judicial impropriety but corruption in the judicial ranks which otherwise should have been an administrative issue , is now being recorded in judicial order, which needs to be sorted out by The Apex court.

  • High court judges, not very occasionally, act in a very autocratic manner. Many of the proceedings online also demonstrate this: that they would make quipping remarks, though not recorded, that make a litigant/ sometimes even advocates nervous. Before a constitutional court, I mean.
    So, if these are the levels of discord amongst the HC judges, to what extent the SC can and should intervene! And, SC is also made of the mindset that emanates from that in high courts only!
    As in legislature, as in various party-based governments, is it not the manifestation of an all-pervading general breakdown and hopeless polarization all over in our system?

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