Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Bribery case hearing on Monday; CJI clips powers of No. 2

Bribery case hearing on Monday; CJI clips powers of No. 2

The petition asks for a special investigation team to be formed to probe into allegations of attempts to bribe Supreme Court judges to allow the registration of medical colleges. The five senior most judges after the CJI are Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Sikri. The Medical Council of India can deny permission to institutions if it finds deficiencies in the colleges' infrastructure. A middleman had allegedly assured the trust that permission would be granted to the college through the judiciary and money was allegedly paid by the parties to facilitate this.

He claimed that the CBI had allegedly seized Rs two crore cash from an alleged aide of the retired judge and the money was to be given to a hawala operator.

He reportedly said in court that the earlier Kalikho Pul had been giving a decent burial hinting that this petition should not meet with the same fate. Quddusi was later released on bail. This petition was first posted before a bench headed by Justice Chalameswar on November 10.

The five-judge Constitution bench also said that the allocation of matter by CJI is the principle of law, judicial discipline and decorum of court.

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The CJI, meanwhile, deemed that he was the only one who can set up benches to look into cases, and no other judge, no matter how senior, could order a formation of a constitutional bench. The Chief Justice constituted a special five-judge bench which heard the case the same afternoon and, setting aside the order of Justice Chelameswar, said that only the Chief Justice could decide on the constitution of benches. However, no comments were made about this in the order.

"At the same time, we are also duty bound to place the developments that when the hearing of the matter was in progress, the officer of the Registry placed a xerox copy of the proceedings purportedly issued by the Chief Justice of India, a copy of which is annexed to this order", it noted. It later emerged that this was a note from the Supreme Court registrar, relating to a technality on how matters of "mentioning" are to be handled.

Mentioning is the process where advocates bring matters that require urgent attention to the notice of the judge orally. The Chief Justice requested lawyers who were present in the courtroom to read the orders he had passed in the matter of the medical institute. Mentioning usually occurs in the Chief Justice's court. The petition was taken up for hearing by the bench headed by Justice Chelameswar. "He should have decided", said Justice Sikri. It had the country's legal and judicial bodies in an uproar, compelling the Supreme Court to issue directions of the procedure to be followed while arresting a judicial officer.

Noteworthy that after the bench led by Justice Chelameshwar heard the matter on Thursday, he received a note from the Chief Justice's office but the contents of it are not known.

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Initially, the matter was mentioned in the morning before the bench headed by Justice Chelameswar for an urgent listing of the petition today itself.

It is hoped that Chief Justice Misra does not block the hearing of a matter of such national importance and most likely, he will not.

It is also equally worrying that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and several senior members of the bar were complicit in achieving this result.

What happened on Friday afternoon?

Some time later, a fresh listing was pasted, this time the strength of the bench came down to five judges.

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The CJI told advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for NGO "Campaign for Judicial Accountability" along with advocate Kamini Jaiswal, that he has levelled "wild allegations" against him (Justice Misra) in a matter in which CBI had lodged a corruption case. "This is contempt of court". Many of these lawyers were unconnected to the petitions. When it had been put up before then CJI, Justice KS Khehar, for administrative orders, he transferred it to a judicial bench and declined an investigation. The lawyer later walked out, charging that the bench was not letting him argue. Justice Chalameswar's order stating that the Constitution bench to deal with the cases should comprise of five senior-most judges was seen as a direction trespassing the authority of the Chief Justice, which was indirectly nullified.

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