Abhishek Banerjee Could Face 3 Months Jail If Fails To Prove His Words: HC Justice Ganguly

Kolkata: Justice Abhijit Ganguly of the Calcutta High Court, who in a span of 10 months ordered to engage the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in ten different cases of alleged corruption in teachers’ recruitment and transfers in the state, Monday said there appeared “rampant corruption” and that is why he had to order so many CBI probes. While his orders have been hailed by several quarters, some including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have often questioned the decisions taken by him. Speaking to ABP Ananda Senior Vice President Suman De, Justice Ganguly spoke about the issue of corruption, the West Bengal administration and its functioning, and the role of the judiciary, among other things.

Asked about his strong stand on the alleged corruption in the matter of teachers’ recruitment, Justice Ganguly said: “There is rampant corruption… Once I was unemployed and that’s why I can feel the pain of this efficient but unemployed lot of young men and women. When I realised that there are two versions of the actual complaint, I wasted no time ordering a thorough investigation.”

Here are excerpts from the interview originally shot in Bangla and aired on ABP Ananda:

Suman De: As a judge, what was your thought process behind the stand you took?

Justice Abhijit Ganguly: I still firmly believe that if there is anyone who took the dishonest path for being recruited as a schoolteacher, he or she will lose job once proven guilty. So nobody should be complacent after taking a wrong path. I have set a timeframe for the investigation to get completed because politicians are very tricky people. They will be free if a proper and timely investigation doesn’t take place.

Suman De: You have been heavily criticised by CM Mamata Banerjee and (Trinamool MP and Mamata’s nephew) Abhishek Banerjee, who often accuse the judiciary of being politically biased. How do you see this?

Justice Abhijit Ganguly: I don’t like these types of statements at all. When Mr. Abhishek Banerjee first criticised (me) on a public platform, I was in Ladakh. I was very angry with this. Some of my works were also mentioned in the comments. I thought of summoning Abhishek Banerjee…taking some drastic steps. I was determined. But on my return to Kolkata, I saw a suit had already been filed with the division bench, which was not ready to give so much importance to such people (read Abhishek Banerjee).

Suman De: So what was your stand then?

Justice Ganguly: I have a different stand on this issue. If I hear any such comment in the near future involving me wrongfully, I will take strict action which they can never imagine. Those who pass on such comments don’t even know what can be done within the limits of the law. Once the judiciary takes a strict stand, people don’t even imagine what can happen. 

Suman De: But there was an event where you were present and CM Mamata Banerjee said a part of the judiciary system is biased…

Justice Ganguly: Yes. I always believe that strict action should be taken when someone points out any judge and says something degrading. I am always in favour of freedom of speech, but there must be certain lines that should not be crossed so people don’t lose faith in the judiciary. People will then say this judge is biased towards BJP, or that judge is close to TMC, and some other favours CPM. This is really unwanted. Is this how a leader should speak? I got a clipping of Abhishek Banerjee’s speech yesterday. Nothing was said about me. But he said BJP workers and leaders do get favour in the Calcutta High Court and get bail after doing any offence because some judges have the BJP backing. What kind of a comment is this? If I summon him (Abhishek Banerjee) and ask him to prove his words, he can prove nothing. He will be sent behind the bars for three months. He can do nothing. Yes, I can be killed later but I don’t care. But people who will raise fingers at the judiciary will not be spared. Else, common people will lose faith in the judiciary.

Suman De: So you are saying there should be ‘terror’ that the law will not spare you if you do not show respect to it?

Justice Ganguly: Yes, I believe sometimes even “terror” sometimes gives good results. For example, there are certain homoeopathy medicines that give relief from toothache or headache instantly. But creating such fear is not terrorism. This is completely different… This is terror based on law. India has never been ruled properly. If it were, there would have been a certain sort of discipline. If the judiciary gets tougher, those into corruption will see themselves in danger. I just want to say this, simple and clear.

Suman De: What’s your opinion on alleged corruption in teachers’ recruitment and transfers?

Justice Ganguly: I have seen corruption since childhood. When I started hearing the case, I saw an “admitted corruption” there when one authority claimed they didn’t recommend anyone, and the West Bengal Madhya Shiksha Parshad countered that they facilitated the recruitment based on that recommendation. So one side was saying they didn’t recommend and the board’s ad hoc committee chief claimed that they made the recruitment after taking permission from them. Two different affidavits were submitted before us. Two contradictory versions. I was sure that there was some corruption there.

Watch the full interview here: