Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 | Last Update : 07:02 PM IST
The CJI continued with the hearing even after he was asked to recuse himself from the case, says Prashant Bhushan.
Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan justifies the filing of two petitions seeking an sit to look into bribery charges against members of higher judiciary in an interview with J. Venkatesan.
Supreme Court senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan has justified the filing of two petitions seeking a special investigation team headed by the former Chief Justice of India into the allegations of bribery against members of higher judiciary in the medical college scam to get favourable orders.
In an interview with this newspaper,, Mr Bhushan also felt that there was nothing wrong in the two-judge bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar passing orders setting up a bench with top five judges to hear this matter.
What prompted the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) to file a writ petition in this matter when nothing is mentioned in the FIR registered by the CBI against top judges in the medical scam?
When I first saw the FIR and learnt about the information collected by the CBI, I felt there was a potential involvement of top people. We never said that CJI is directly involved in this case. We thought that being a very sensitive matter, the government may use the CBI to arm-twist the judiciary. Therefore it was felt that the probe should not remain with the CBI but should be entrusted to a SIT headed by former CJI of this court and petition was filed for this purpose.
What is your response to the allegation of forum shopping or bench hunting over your demand that this petition should be heard only by Justice Chelameswar?
There is no forum shopping. On the contrary it was the CJI Dipak Misra who picked up a Bench of his choice with junior members. The proposition of law laid down by various courts across the world including the US and House of Lords in the UK is that persons even remotely connected should not hear the matter either judicially or take administrative decisions. When this was pointed out to Justice Chelameswar, he rightly constituted a bench of top five judges.
Is it proper for Justice Chelameswar to constitute a Bench even indicating its composition, which is a function, vested with the CJI Dipak Misra?
There is nothing wrong in the order passed by Justice Chelameswar and the CJI could have constituted the same bench, instead of having junior judges in the Bench. On November 10, I stormed out of the court hall as I was not allowed to speak though those who were not connected with the case were allowed to speak. The CJI continued with the hearing even after he was asked to recuse himself from the case.
What do you think will happen to the fate of the petition filed by CJAR after the dismissal of the petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal?
If the petition is posted before the same Bench of Justices R.K. Agrawal, Arun Mishra and A.M. Kanwilkar, it will meet the same fate. If the CJI posts it before a bench of senior judges, then we may pursue it.
While dismissing Kamini Jaiswal’s petition, the court has commented that in view of the scurrilous and baseless allegations made against the CJI, damage has already been done to the judiciary and it was time for the judiciary and the bar to unite. Do you stand by your allegations?
Damage was caused by the Bench, which did not even look into the documents brought to the court by the CBI on November 13 (in terms of Justice Chelameswar’s directions on November 9). In fact, we wanted the CJI and the institution to come clean with the allegations by entrusting the probe to the SIT, which was however not done.