SC to hear today plea on 'bribes' being taken in judges' name

Violet Powell
November 11, 2017

The judge was arrested in September and is lodged in Tihar Jail here after CBI accused him of guiding the private medical college and assuring its management of favourable settlement of their cases in the Supreme Court.

The petitioners believed there would be a conflict of interest if Misra was involved in hearing the case.

"Hence, it becomes essential that this case is investigated under the supervision of a Special Investigation Team headed by a retired Chief Justice of this Hon'ble Court and that the investigation is not left to an agency fully controlled by the government i.e. the CBI which has lodged the FIR and now undertaking the investigation", the PIL demands.

The activist advocate was also rebuked by Justice Arun Mishra, who observed that FIR can not be lodged against sitting judicial officer of lower courts, judges of the higher judiciary, the Vice President of India or the President of India because they have immunity.

The tussle within top judiciary today came to the fore with the Supreme Court overturning the order of a two-judge bench to set up a larger bench to hear a graft case allegedly involving judges, asserting that Chief Justice of India was the "master of the roster".

"The request that the chief justice should not deal with the matter should have been made to him".

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a PIL filed by a lawyer challenging the appointment of four judges to the apex court-justices A.M. Kanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud, M.M. Shantanagouder and L. Nageswara Rao in July 2016. "No bench can direct constitution of a constitution bench like this", the bench, also comprising Justices R K Agrawal, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, said. But when the Chief Justice is not available, such as when he or she may be presiding over a Constitution bench - as was the case on Thursday - the mentioning usually goes to the second senior-most judge of the court. "If you say, I may recuse from that bench".

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Extending the same principle, the bench said Chief Justice of India is the "Master of Rolls" in the top court and any order passed by any bench assigning any matter to itself or directing the composition of benches won't be binding. However, the petition was later moved to a bench headed by Justice AK Sikri.

Though two years had elapsed the MoP is yet to be finalised and hence the recommendations made by the apex court collegium for appointment of the four Judges are void and could not be acted upon, he said and sought a direction in this regard.

The Supreme Court today wondered how could two of its judges usurp the power of the Chief Justice of India to set up a bench, while some lawyers alleged that an NGO and an advocate were indulging in "forum shopping".

The Chief Justice also rejected the suggestion that media be restrained from reporting the proceedings and that it be held in-camera. "There can not be a command or order directing Chief Justice of India to constitute a particular kind of a bench".

Pleading ignorance about the second petition, Bhushan said that since the allegations were in respect of the matter heard by the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra, he should not have exercised his administrative and judicial authority.

The petition by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) seeking an independent court monitored investigation in this case, by a SIT headed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was mentioned for urgent listing before court number 2.

The CJI retorted by asking Bhushan, who was accompanied by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, one of the petitioners, to read the contents of the FIR and warned against losing his temper.

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