High drama in the Supreme Court: twist in bribery case

Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan storms out after a sharp exchange with Chief Justice of India. Bench annuls yesterday’s order of bench headed by Justice Chelameswar

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

NH Web Desk

Amidst unprecedented scenes in the Supreme Court on Friday, a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India annulled the order of a Supreme Court Bench yesterday to refer two petitions demanding an investigation by a SIT into allegations of a cover up of bribery involving judges of the Supreme Court to a Constitution Bench.

The Chief Justice of India, the Bench ruled on Friday, was the master of the roster and had the right to refer petitions to a Bench of his choice. This executive right of the Chief Justice, the Bench ruled, could not be taken away by the judicial side of the apex court.

One of the petitioners to have sought a SIT inquiry, lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, had sharp exchanges with the CJI before he stormed out of the court , complaining that he was not heard.

A 5-judge Bench of CJI Misra and Justices RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar was hearing the petition filed by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR).

“You have heard persons who are not even parties to the case for an hour. If Your Lordships want to pass an order without hearing me, then do it”, said Bhushan.

He then stormed out of the court with the marshalls escorting him.

Supreme Court lawyers and others present in the court watched in fascination the unprecedented tussle between two groups of lawyers. Several tweets and retweets emanating apparently from the courtroom provided a glimpse into the high drama as this thread would demonstrate.

One of the tweets informed:

Advocate Prashant Bhushan leaves the hearing midway, complaining he hasn't been allowed to speak for over an hour & that the Bench can pass whatever orders it feels. He shouts, screams and goes out.

Prashant Bhushan: FIR is lodged directly against you

CJI: What nonsense! There's not a word in FIR naming me or anyone else. Read our orders first. You are now liable for contempt.

Bhushan: So, issue a contempt.

CJI: You are not worth it.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan himself tweeted:

Advocate Prashant Bhushan left the hearing midway, complaining he hasn't been allowed to speak for over an hour and that the Bench can pass whatever orders it feels.

Absolutely unprecedented! The 5-judge bench headed by the CJI Justice Dipak Mishra has annulled the order passed by Justice Chelameswar ordering probe into allegations of judicial corruption against the CJI!!

Petitions filed by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Kamini Jaiswal prayed for a Special Investigating Team under a retired Chief Justice of India to inquire into the role of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in covering up a case involving bribery of high court and supreme court judges.

CBI had in September arrested a retired judge of the Orissa High Court along with others and recovered ₹2 Crore in cash. It had alleged that the retired judge and a middleman were helping a Trust seeking recognition of a medical college in Uttar Pradesh. The recognition was denied by the Medical Council of India and cases are pending before the high court and the Supreme Court.

All the accused, however, were released on bail but the CBI had not challenged the bail order and gone in appeal, prompting Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal to seek a probe by SIT.

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