School jobs for cash scam: Calcutta High Court asks TMC's Abhishek Banerjee to cooperate with CBI probe; says "you aren't above law"

School jobs for cash scam: Calcutta High Court asks TMC's Abhishek Banerjee to cooperate with CBI probe; says "you aren't above law"

The Calcutta High Court Monday pulled up Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee for opposing an earlier order of the High Court by which a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was ordered against him in the school jobs for cash case [State of West Bengal vs Soumen Nandy].

Single-judge Justice Amrita Sinha sought to know from Banerjee as to what was troubling him and why he couldn't co-operate with the probe, as ordered. 

"If suppose there is an investigation, why can't you co-operate? What is troubling you? The court has merely ordered for a probe and no one is above an investigation. Let me know what is troubling you? What is the difficulty?" the judge asked advocate Sabyasachi Banerjee, who represented the TMC leader. 

The Court further remarked that nobody is above the law.

"You are not above law, stop being extra-apprehensive" 

The observation was made after advocate Banerjee sought an audience from the bench in the proceedings, wherein the petitioner Soumen Nandy sought to implement the April 13 order passed by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who had directed the CBI and ED to investigate Abhishek Banerjee's role in the said scam.

Advocate Banerjee urged the bench that since the order in question affects his client, he should be afforded an opportunity to be heard. 

However, Justice Sinha wasn't impressed with the submission. 

"In the midst of an investigation, several names might crop up. But that doesn't mean that each and every person will have to be given notice prior to the probe. All that the person has to do is co-operate with the probe. Please understand, no body is above the law and not even you. So stop giving too much importance," the judge remarked. 

At this, advocate Banerjee submitted that his client apprehends an adverse action.

"Stop being extra apprehensive. I see nothing against you at least at this stage. Only probe is ordered against a speech. Let them proceed. You have no right to be heard at this stage," the judge said. 

Meanwhile, the bench reserved its orders on the revision application filed by West Bengal government against the orders transferring probe to CBI and ED. 

Advocate General SN Mookerjee argued that the judge (Justice Gangopadhyay) had no determination to pass orders on the given date and thus, the order of the CBI probe does not stand.

"At the relevant time, the judge wasn't seized with matters concerning municipalities. Thus he had no jurisdiction," the bench argued. 

The Advocate General further argued that if a crime has taken place in the State, it is the question of law and order within the State and thus only the State can probe it. 

"The investigation could be transferred to the CBI or even ED, only in rarest of rare instances and the instant case, as per me, isn't a rarest of rare case. In fact, the concerned department wasn't available before the court. Due to government holiday, all public offices were shut that day," Mookerjee pointed out. 

During the course of the hearing, the counsel appearing for CBI informed the bench that one Dharamvir Singh, the Superintendent of Police, who is part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case, had sought to retire voluntarily. It was further informed that another officer would replace Singh.