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Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s Controversial Stint: Calcutta HC Judge’s Turbulent Tenure, Political Clashes, and Resignation Hint

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Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's Controversial Stint: Calcutta HC Judge's Turbulent Tenure, Political Clashes, and Resignation Hint
Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay's Controversial Stint: Calcutta HC Judge's Turbulent Tenure, Political Clashes, and Resignation Hint

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s tumultuous tenure at the Calcutta High Court has been marked by confrontations with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government, leading to his recent announcement of resignation from the judiciary. The judge, in office since May 2018, cited retirement later this year and hinted at potential entry into electoral politics.

Throughout his tenure, Justice Gangopadhyay courted controversy by defying orders from larger Benches, giving a television interview, and issuing directives to the Supreme Court registry. His clash with the TMC government escalated in 2022 when he issued orders for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate an alleged school jobs scam in West Bengal.

Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s Controversial Stint: Calcutta HC Judge’s Turbulent Tenure, Political Clashes, and Resignation Hint

 

The alleged scam prompted Justice Gangopadhyay to order CBI investigations, resulting in the termination of over 32,000 teacher appointments. However, a Division Bench later stayed the order. In September 2022, while handling cases related to the alleged scam, the judge gave an interview to ABP Ananda, questioning the finances of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, the party’s second-in-command and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew. The Supreme Court objected to sitting judges giving TV interviews, leading to an order for the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court to reassign the matter to another Bench.

In response, Justice Gangopadhyay passed a suo motu order, directing the Secretary General of the Supreme Court to provide the report and official translation of his interview. The Supreme Court held a special late evening sitting to stay his order, with a Division Bench remarking that his actions were “against judicial discipline.” Despite souring relations with the state government, the judge’s orders were applauded by school job aspirants seeking an investigation into the alleged scam.

In January, Justice Gangopadhyay accused fellow High Court judge Soumen Sen of acting for a political party, leading to an altercation and a Division Bench’s stay on his order directing the police to hand over case documents to the CBI. Undeterred, he directed the state Advocate General to transfer the documents to the central agency, alleging that Justice Sen interfered in matters related to Abhishek Banerjee. The Supreme Court took notice of the defiance and transferred the case to itself.

Born in 1962 in Kolkata, Justice Gangopadhyay’s journey includes attending Mitra Institution, completing his graduation at Hazra Law College, and starting as a West Bengal Civil Service Grade-A officer. He transitioned to practicing as a state advocate in the Calcutta High Court, eventually becoming an additional judge in 2018 and a permanent judge two years later. Throughout his career, Justice Gangopadhyay’s confrontations with the government and controversial decisions have made him a central figure in the legal and political landscape of West Bengal.

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