Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 24
Amid allegations of conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asserted that it will get to the bottom of the matter and take it to its logical conclusion.
A three-judge Bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Rohinton F Nariman and Justice Deepak Gupta—which had sought presence of CBI Director, Intelligence Bureau Director and Delhi Police Commissioner for in-chamber interaction—asked them to seize the relevant material in order to support the claims made in an affidavit filed by advocate Utsav Bains.
These top officials were called at 12.30 pm after the pre-lunch proceedings in the case and the Bench re-assembled at 3 pm to hear the matter again when Bains placed submitted an envelope containing some papers to substantiate his claims.
Noting that "very disturbing" facts had emerged, the Bench said it concerned independence of judiciary and the claims made by Bains needed to be gone into.
“He (Bains) has said that there are fixers. Who are these fixers? We need to find out these fixers manipulating the judiciary. If they continue to work then none of us will survive... Fixing has no role to play in the system. We will inquire and inquire and inquire and take it to logical conclusion,” the Bench said.
The court asked Bains, Attorney General KK Venugopal and SCBA President Rakesh Khanna to assist it on legal points regarding claim of privilege made by Bains regarding certain information.
It ordered protection to be given to Bains as it didn’t want evidence to be destroyed or compromised.
Bains had claimed that he was offered Rs 1.5 crore by one Ajay to represent a former top court woman employee and arrange a press conference against the CJI at the Press Club of India in the capital. He, however, did not disclose his source of information.
He had alleged that disgruntled top court employees Tapan Kumar Chakraborty and Manav Sharma and others had ganged together in frame the CJI in a sexual harassment case after their dismissal.
Earlier, the Justice Gogoi too had said there was a bigger force at work to de-activate the office of the CJI.
As Bains said he would like to file another affidavit giving further "incriminating evidence", the Bench asked him to do it by 10.30 am on Thursday when it will take up the matter again.
“Considering the seriousness of the allegations as the system has absolutely no place for such fixers, we cannot leave the matter at that. It becomes our responsibility to keep this Institution clean as well as to ensure that the image of this Institution is not tarnished by such allegations to undertake the probe in the matter,” the Bench said in its order.
But it turned down request made by Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for a court-monitored SIT probe at this stage.
The Bench clarified that there was no connection between the hearing on allegations of conspiracy and an in-house inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI.
The hearing witnesses some heated exchange between Bains and Venugopal after the former said some of his information was privileged that he didn’t want to disclose.
“I really don’t understand how a person can make certain allegations and claim rest is privileged,” the Attorney General said, prompting Bains to react.
As Bains was responding to Venugopal, Justice Nariman told Bains: “You have no reason to have an iota of doubt on him. He is the most respected member of this Bar. We all look up to him. If you have an iota of doubt, we will throw you out”.
Bains said, “I will walk out myself” and started to leave the courtroom only to be called back by Justice Mishra.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising—who appeared in her personal capacity—alleged that Bains came inside Supreme Court premises in a car without a sticker. “How can he do that? He came in a Jaguar car, Let him admit or deny it”, she said.
Earlier Justice Mishra said, the CJI had taken action against those manipulating things in the court. "This action has been taken by the CJI for the first time. This was happening in the past also but no CJI had the courage to do this," he said, adding CJI Gogoi wanted to clean up the system.
Meanwhile, a committee headed by Justice SA Bobde set up to inquire into sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi has issued notice to the complainant woman dismissed employees of the top court.
The committee—also comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee—has asked her to be present on April 26. It has also said to have asked Secretary General to be ready with all documents relating to the controversy.
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