Can't Put Judiciary's Credibility in Hands of a Police Sub-inspector: SC
Justice Arun Misra, who sat on the bench presided over by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that there is no law to register criminal cases against the judges and it is guided only by a procedure.
A file image of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that credibility of the judiciary cannot be put in the hands of a police sub-inspector.
Included in the five-judge Constitution Bench, Justice Arun Misra was emphatic about the constitutional protection given to the judges and emphasised that an FIR cannot be registered against a member of the judiciary on a mere complaint or even by passing judicial orders.
Justice Mishra, who sat on the bench presided over by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that there is no law to register criminal cases against the judges and it is guided only by a procedure.
"Judges have got certain protection. And this protection is not for the individuals but for the institution. We also say it with utmost seriousness that there should be no corruption at all and all such complaints should be duly checked. But are we going to put the credibility of the judiciary in the hands of a SI (sub-inspector)?," asked the judge.
Justice Mishra was referring to the contentions in a PIL that a comprehensive probe was warranted in the wake of the allegations that the judges at the highest level might be involved in settling cases relating to medical colleges.
When advocate Prashant Bhushan stated that the name of the CJI might come up during the probe, Justice Mishra retorted that not just his bald allegations amounted to contempt of the court but also that the PIL could not ask for an inquiry against a sitting CJI through a judicial order.
"We are not here to protect the individuals but the constitutional protection will have to be respected. There is a procedure to inquire. When the allegations are against the members of the subordinate judiciary, high court chief justice gives approval. When high court judges are involved, the Supreme Court and the CJI look at them. And when someone alleges against the CJI, there is President and Vice-President. We cannot take cognisance of such complaints on the judicial side," he maintained.
Justice Mishra said that it is "neither conceivable nor proper" to authorise just any other police officer to start investigating against sitting and former judges.
The judge also questioned the order passed by Justice J Chelameswar a day ago wherein a similar PIL demanding a probe into grant of accreditation to medical colleges was directed to be placed before "first five" senior judges.
"The question is can a two-judge bench refer a matter to a Constitution Bench? Even if we assume the issues involved were constitutionally important, why the first five judges? Are other judges not competent?" he asked.
About the CJI, he said that Justice Mishra was in a "dilemma" whether or not to constitute a bench in the second matter now.
Justice Misra, on his part, pointed out that Bhushan should first look at the orders passed by the bench headed by him in the medical colleges' cases since the court gave no approval to the colleges mentioned in the CBI FIR for the academic year 2017-18.
As Bhushan said he wanted CJI's recusal since cases being heard by his bench were subject-matter of investigation, Justice Misra replied: "We deal with hundreds of cases every day and pass orders. But what's going on? We are also concerned about the institution. You (Bhushan) may hurl allegations against me and also lose temper but we cannot afford to do it. If this goes on the institution cannot function. We are not going to be guided by what people talk about us in the Court corridors. We are on the issue of judicial propriety."
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