The Calcutta High Court has moved the Supreme Court against an order of its own judge criticising the acting chief justice, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday.
The High Court’s administrative division has challenged Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya July 19 order regarding the transfer of a civil case from him to a division bench.
Justice Bhattacharyya had criticised the court administration as well as Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, on whose orders the case was reassigned. He had said that while the Chief Justice is the master of the roster, he is not the master of “all I survey” and the power cannot be exercised at his whims and fancies.
“‘Chutzpah’ [audacity] is probably not appreciated in the higher echelons of power,” Justice Bhattacharya had said in the order. “However, opacity creates whispers in the corridors and is not healthy for a judicial system.”
Justice Bhattacharyya, however, said in the order that the division bench should hear the case in deference to the mandate of the “master of the roster”. Before this, he had also strongly criticised the court administration for technical disruptions in virtual hearings.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers have strongly opposed Acting Chief Justice Bindal’s decision to reassign the case and protested outside his office on Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reported.
“We are extremely shocked that the moment Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya questioned why measures were not taken to improve the quality of virtual hearing, the same matter was suddenly assigned to a division bench,” the lawyers wrote in a letter to the acting chief justice. “It is extremely apparent that the sudden assignment to a division bench was made only for the reason that Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya questioned the administrative side of the high court for not doing their required job.”
Justice Bhattacharyya had made strong observations in the case with regard to the technical disruptions, saying that he was being forced to play “dumb charades” during virtual hearings with the advocates, according to The Leaflet.
“Fie on the system which cannot deliver justice to its citizens,” he observed. “I personally feel guilty, as a part of this court, since disruption and interference in functioning of courts, in whatever form, might amount to criminal contempt. I am a party to such act as a part of the showcase of judges who are adorning this court, including the chief justice.”