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Posted at: Nov 15, 2017, 2:01 AM; last updated: Nov 15, 2017, 11:06 AM (IST)

No judge can be held responsible for what happens in corridors: SC

Rejects plea for SIT probe into ‘judicial bribery’ scandal
No judge can be held responsible for what happens in corridors: SC

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal for a special investigation team (SIT) under the supervision of a retired Chief Justice of India to probe allegations of bribery to procure judicial orders in a medical college admissions case.

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“No judge can be held responsible for what may or has happened in the corridors, or for ‘who purports to sell whom’. The alleged actions of a retired judge of a High Court, allegedly assuring and promising a ‘favourable’ decision in the aforesaid circumstances of the case which was then pending before this court...  begs the question, and we wonder, as to what favourable orders have been passed,” a three-judge Bench of Justices RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar said.

It said acts of advocates Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan and senior advocate Dushyant Dave were contemptuous. However, it chose not to initiate contempt proceedings. 

Bhushan, who had objected to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra being on the Constitution Bench that heard the issue on November 10, had demanded Justice Khanwilkar’s recusal for the same reason.

But the three-judge Bench said: “As a matter of fact, this controversy has been set at rest that even when there is an allegation against the CJI, it is he who has to assign the case to a Bench.” 

“In our opinion, rather it is the duty of the Bench to take up such matter firmly; such unscrupulous allegations and insinuations cannot be allowed to be hurled by oral prayer made on behalf of the petitioner for recusal. This is simply deprecated and we find that it is another attempt to bring the system in disrepute, casting of unwarranted aspersions tantamounts to seriously jeopardising the independence of the judiciary,” the Bench said.

It indicted the lawyers, including Prashant Bhushan, for what it termed “wholly unethical, unwarranted” forum hunting as they knew that a petition was pending before a Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri and still filed a second similar petition and mentioned it before Justice J Chelameswar’s Bench.

“The submissions so raised, and averments so made, in this petition, and the entire scenario created by filing of two successive petitions, are really disturbing. The entire judicial system has been unnecessarily brought into disrepute for no good cause whatsoever,” the Bench said.

“We cannot fall prey to such unscrupulous devices adopted by the 37 litigants, so as to choose the Benches, as that is a real threat to very existence of the system itself and it would be denigrated in case we succumb to such pressure tactics,” it said. The verdict, authored by Justice Arun Mishra, sought to emphasise that the FIR didn’t mention the names of any judges of the top court. “There cannot be any FIR even against the Civil Judge/Munsif without permission of the Chief Justice of the court concerned; and rightly, FIR has not been registered against any sitting judge. Otherwise, on unfounded allegations, any honest judge to the core can be defamed, and reputation can be jeopardised,” it noted.

The Bench said, “Though it is true that none of us is above law, no person in the higher echelons is above the law, but at the same time, it is the duty of both the Bar and the Bench to protect the dignity of the entire judicial system. We find that filing of such petitions and the zest with which it is pursued has brought the entire system to unrest. 

“An effort was made to create ripples in this court; serious and unwanted shadow of doubt has been created for no good reason whatsoever by way of filing the petition, which was wholly scandalous and ought not to have been filed in such a method and manner,” it added.

The order passed by Justice Chelameswar’s Bench to refer the petition to five top judges had created a storm and the CJI set up a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by him that asserted his authority as “the master of the roster” and effectively overturned the order passed by Justice Chelameswar’s Bench.

Former Odisha HC Judge IM Quddusi was arrested along with Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences chairman BP Yadav, his son Palash Yadav and three others in September and was later given bail by a Delhi court.

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