NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to set aside a Calcutta High Court order allowing the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to question TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in connection with their probe into the West Bengal teachers' recruitment scam.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha, however, clarified that Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can pursue his legal remedies, including quashing the probe.
"At this stage, we are not inclined to interfere with the order as the consequence of doing so would be to stifle the investigation at the incipient stage. Having said this, we leave it open to the petitioner to pursue all remedies which are available in law,” the bench said in its order.
Appearing for the central agencies, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju submitted that they have found Rs 350 crores so far in the primary school teacher recruitment scam and when Abhishek is summoned, he must co-operate and obey and this is a scam where a large number of genuine teachers were deprived of the job.
He said that even if it is assumed that the judge, who passed the order, was biased then also how the ED can be stopped from investigating.
The bench also agreed that it may not be correct to stultify the investigation at this stage as the court cannot tell the ED or any investigating agency to probe only some particular facets.
Arguing the matter for the Banerjee, senior advocate A M Singhvi questioned the validity of the High Court's order. He said the ED has called him six times even at the timez when he was campaigning in remote areas in Darjeeling. His client’s wife and children were stopped from boarding a plane at the airport, he contended.
The bench, however, said it can't go into legality of summons issued against him.
"You are saying ED has gone beyond what the high court had ruled but does that preclude the ED from looking into other facets," the bench asked the counsel, saying the agency has independent power to investigate.
The court also noted the single judge had already applied her mind into the matter, and it would not be appropriate to interfere into the order.
In May this year, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the ED on Banerjee’s plea against a Calcutta High Court's order refusing to stop the CBI and the ED from questioning him in connection with their probe into the West Bengal teacher recruitment scam.
The court, however, had stayed the part of the high court order, which imposed Rs 25 lakh costs on Banerjee.
Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court T S Sivagnanam had reassigned the case to a new bench on May 2.
This has come after the apex court directed to the high court to reassign the case to another bench. In April, the Supreme Court had intervened when Banerjee complained to it about an interview given by the earlier presiding judge, Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, in which the latter made comments about the sub judice case, pending before him.