Free Press Journal

Judges Bribery: Moment of truth for judges, lawyers today in Supreme Court


New Delhi: Loose talk against the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is damaging the credibility of the country’s top court, the Supreme Court said on Monday as it heard a case about alleged bribe-taking by senior judges.

 The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has reserved its order for Tuesday on maintainability of a petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the medical college bribery scam — a case dealt by the Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, a former union law minister, appeared along with his son Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Jaiswal. They refused to argue on the merits of the case, citing the presence of Justice A M Khanwilkar on the Bench, since he was one of the judges who had heard the controversial medical college case. The other two judges on the bench are RK Agrawal and Arun Mishra.

Without mincing words, Justice Agrawal said the lawyers should tell the court “how to repair the damage that has been done.” “Damage that was supposed to be done, has already been done. Everybody is doubting the Supreme Court,” he said, expressing concern over the haste with which the petition was pushed.

Justice Arun Mishra said, “Everyone is doubting the credibility of the Supreme Court. Allegations shouldn’t have been made against the Chief Justice of India as there is nothing (against him) in the FIR (or CBI’s complaint).”

Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan responded that “a wrong impression has been created that this petition is against the Chief Justice. The petition says that the probe may eventually involve the Chief Justice. We hope that the Chief Justice may not be involved in this.”Shanti Bhushan, in turn, insisted that the matter should be referred to a Constitution Bench to decide on scope of Articles 142 and 144.

His argument was that the order passed by Justice J Chelameswar on November 9, which was struck down by a 5-judge Bench headed by the CJI on Friday, was binding on all other civil and judicial bodies, including other benches of the Supreme Court, on the basis of Article 142.

Also Read: A Supreme Court divided against itself

What he sought was “justice” in the instant case as Article 142 says: “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.”

Attorney General KK Venugopal argued in his personal capacity. He submitted that the second petition by Kamini Jaiswal should never have been filed since it has caused great damage to the judiciary. He wanted both Kamini and Prashant Bhushan to withdraw their petitions.

Noted jurist Fali S Nariman in a signed article on Monday described the development as black letter day in the Supreme Court because of “a marked absence of judicial temper and rectitude.”

Agreeing with the oral order passed by the Constitution Bench headed by the CJI that there cannot be any kind of command directing the CJI to constitute a Bench,” Nariman said: “It is an accurate summing up of the true legal position.”

He said: “The incidents of November 9 and 10 have affected the respect the people have for the courts. If Judges and lawyers do not remember this, a vital institution of the State will get undermined. We, the Judges and the lawyers, must prevent it,” he added.

Nariman also quoted in this regard the first African-American judge Thurgood Marshal who presided over the US Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991; he had said: “All our Judges (and lawyers) must always keep in mind: that the only real source of power that Judges can tap is the respect of the people.”

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