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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by NGO Citizens for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the medical college bribery case, allegedly involving former Orissa High Court Judge I M Quddusi.
Rejecting the plea, a bench of Justices R K Agrawal, Arun Mishra and A M Khanwilkar also imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on the petitioner NGO, to be paid to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
On November 14, the same bench had dismissed a similar plea, which made identical allegations and also sought an SIT probe, filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal. The bench had said the CBI FIR in the matter was not against any sitting judge of the court and added that the two petitions (filed by Jaiswal and CJAR) had brought the “entire judicial system unnecessarily into disrepute for no good cause or reason whatsoever”.
The case pertains to the arrest of Quddusi, along with five others, by the CBI on September 21, for alleged corruption involving the Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, which was reportedly trying to get relief from courts after being placed on a government blacklist.
The CBI claimed Quddusi and others were involved in deals to try and secure favourable orders from courts. In its FIR, the CBI alleged that promoters of the medical college, one of 46 barred by the government from admitting students for two years, had approached Quddusi who had promised relief from courts, including the Supreme Court, with bribes to influential people.
Proceedings in the case before a five-judge Constitution bench on November 10 had witnessed acrimonious scenes, with CJAR counsel Prashant Bhushan raising charges against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and storming out of the courtroom, claiming he was not being heard.
The case was subsequently allotted to the three-judge bench of Justices Agrawal, Mishra, Khanwilkar. The bench reserved its order on Monday, after hearing Bhushan and Attorney General K K Venugopal.
Arguing before the bench, Bhushan said he was “not saying that any judge of this court will be involved in this”. He said he only wanted “to protect the independence of the judiciary” as “such an investigation, if left to the unfettered control of the CBI or police, can be used to harass judges and compromise their independence”.
He said only an SIT probe headed by a retired CJI would be able to establish if the allegations in the FIR were correct and if not, action needed to be taken against whomsoever responsible.
Justice Mishra raised questions on the registration and other procedures followed in filing the petition. Bhushan said the case had to be looked at from a much bigger point of view. Both Justices Agrawal and Mishra said the issues raised by him had already been dealt with in the court’s November 14 order.
But Bhushan said the order had not addressed all issues.
Attorney General K K Venugoal too said the questions had already been dealt with by the court. He said the current petition was a “verbatim copy” of the one filed by Jaiswal.
Agreeing with him, Justice Misra said, “I tallied, it is virtually verbatim. Ninety per cent match”.
The AG added that it was “highly disingenuous to say that they are trying to protect independence of judiciary by raising a ghost that the FIR may falsely find a judge being involved in this… It’s totally misconceived. He should have accepted it (order on Jaiswal’s petition) gracefully.”