Judges have no business giving interviews to the media on pending cases, the Supreme Court said on Monday, according to Live Law.
A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud sought a report from the Calcutta High Court on whether one of its judges, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, gave an interview to a television channel about a case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary teachers in West Bengal.
The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal by Trinamool Congress National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee against a High Court order that had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to question him in connection with the case.
Banerjee told the court that Gangopadhyay, who passed the order, had expressed his dislike for him in an interview to ABP Ananda in September. In response to the contention, the Supreme Court told the registrar general of the High Court to file an affidavit by Friday stating whether the judge gave the interview and spoke about the case.
The court added that if Gangopadhyay had given the interview, he could not hear the case and a different bench would have to take up the matter, Bar and Bench reported.
“I just want to say [that] judges have no business granting interviews on matters which are pending,” Chandrachud orally remarked. “If he said that about the petitioner, he has no business participating in the proceedings...There has to be some process.”
The Supreme Court had stayed the High Court order asking the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to question Banerjee and other Trinamool Congress leader Kuntal Ghosh on April 13.
In 2019, primary teacher jobs were allegedly given to candidates in return for money instead to those who had qualified in the recruitment process. A dozen officials of the state education department, including former minister Partha Chatterjee, have been arrested in the case.
On March 29, Banerjee had claimed at a public meeting that central agencies were putting pressure on accused persons in custody to name him in the case. Subsequently, Ghosh also claimed that he was being pressured by investigators to make allegations about Banerjee.
Ghosh, who is currently in jail, was in CBI custody from February 20 to February 23. Before this, he was in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody after his arrest on January 21 till February 2, according to Bar and Bench.
On the claims by Banerjee and Ghosh, the Calcutta High Court had said on April 13: “It is a matter to be enquired and investigated whether Kuntal Ghosh took the [cue] from the public speech of said Abhishek Banerjee for which both of them can be interrogated both by ED and by CBI and such interrogation should be made soon.”