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Damage is Done, Let’s Unite Again to Restore Glory of This Institution: SC in Judges’ Bribery Case

The three-judge bench, led by Justice R K Agrawal dismissed the PIL, which had sought an independent probe into a graft case that related to getting recognition for medical colleges.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:November 14, 2017, 3:37 PM IST
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Damage is Done, Let’s Unite Again to Restore Glory of This Institution: SC in Judges’ Bribery Case
File photo of the Supreme Court.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday acknowledged the crisis the judiciary had plunged into following the petitions seeking inquiry into a graft case allegedly involving judges, and appealed for unity by all its stakeholders to work for glory and welfare of the institution.

“Damage has been done to the institution by such petitions. Unnecessary doubts were raised against the integrity of this great institution we are all part of...let us all unite together and work again for the glory and welfare of the institution,” said Justice Arun Mishra, who read out the verdict.

The three-judge bench, led by Justice R K Agrawal dismissed the PIL, which had sought an independent probe into a graft case that related to getting recognition for medical colleges. The CBI had arrested a former Orissa High Court judge in this case and the accusations were raised that bribes had exchanged hands to settle cases pending in the apex court.

But the bench held that the CBI FIR was not against any judge of the Supreme Court nor can any FIR be filed against any judge through a judicial order by filing a petition.

Justice Mishra further noted that the bribes, as mentioned in the FIR, could not have been in connection with any judge of the top court since that matter was not pending before the Supreme Court at all.

“We must tell you that we are also not above the law but it must follow due procedure but this matter should stop here, this is what we expect,” said Justice Mishra.

He called the petition as “derogatory and contemptuous” but refrained from initiating contempt proceedings against advocates Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal “in the hope” that no such petitions shall be pressed in future.

The bench also held petitioner advocates guilty of “forum shopping” since they got a second petition based on similar facts and with identical prayers listed before Justice J Chelameswar’s bench on an urgent basis even though the first PIL had been assigned to a different bench.

Justice Chelameswar had ordered for setting up a bench comprising first five judges of the Court while summoning the evidence collected by the CBI but this order was overturned by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The second petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal had thus landed before this three-judge bench.

Justice Mishra deprecated the practice of going to the other bench and rued that petitioners did not inform Justice Chelameswar that their first case had been assigned to some other bench.

“The CJI was competent to assign the matter to some other bench. We deprecate attempts to seek recusal of the CJI and also one of the judges on this bench. It only aggravated the situation. We also regret that such petitions have been filed without verification of the facts,” said the judge, shutting the case.

Today’s order virtually seals the fate of the other PIL as well which arises out if the same CBI FIR and seeks identical directions. The other petition, filed by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, is to come up after two weeks.

This matter witnessed an unprecedented power struggle in the highest judiciary, prompting a Constitution Bench headed by the CJI to rule that the CJI is the “master of the roster” and only he can decide which matter can go to which court. Justice Chelameswar’s order was nullified hours after pronouncement of this verdict by the five-judge bench.

Bhushan had sought recusal of the CJI in this case, contending since a bench headed by the CJI had been hearing MCI cases, he should not pass any order on administrative or judicial side.
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