New Delhi | Updated: January 16, 2018 7:10:04 am
Just over two months ago, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra locked horns in the Supreme Court after Bhushan demanded that the CJI recuse himself from the Lucknow medical college graft case. The CJI refused to do so and Bhushan stormed out of the court.
Now he is back with a new complaint against the CJI in the same case and has sent copies of it to the four “rebel” judges, Justices J Chelameswar, R Gogoi, K Joseph and M B Lokur.
A copy of the complaint was also sent to Justice A K Sikri.
Signed by Bhushan, as Convenor of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, the complaint calls for an inquiry against the Chief Justice by either three or five senior Supreme Court Judges for what are described as “various allegations of misconduct.”
The complaint alleges, “The CBI FIR makes allegations that the entire conspiracy and planning was to bribe and influence apex court judges who are dealing with the case of Prasad medical Trust. This Bench was clearly headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. In these circumstances, he was an interested party and could not have dealt with this case either on the judicial side or the administrative side by way of assigning a particular Bench to hear this case…while at this stage there may not be conclusive evidence of Justice Dipak Misra’s involvement, the circumstances listed definitely warrant a thorough investigation…”
The 24-page complaint (with 100 pages of annexures) concludes: “The above-mentioned matters have tarnished the reputation of the court and have brought the judiciary into disrepute. It is a matter which needs to be swiftly dealt with…”
Today’s complaint has been filed under the “in-house” procedure for investigating complaints against judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Bhushan has pointed out that since the “in-house” procedure is silent about complaints against the Chief Justice, these complaints cannot be examined by the Chief Justice himself and, therefore, must be examined by the next judge in seniority or by a collegium of senior judges.
Coming just three days after four seniormost Supreme Court Judges went public with their complaint about allocation of benches in the tenure of the present Chief Justice, Bhushan has made the MCI case — in which too the benches were changed by the Chief Justice — the mainstay of his argument in his plea for initiating an inquiry against the CJI.
Annexed in Bhushan’s complaint are transcripts of conversations of September 2017 purportedly recorded by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Medical Council of India (MCI) bribery scam for which the agency had registered an FIR on September 19, 2017.
The tapped conversations are purportedly between I M Quddusi, retired Judge of the Orissa High Court who has been arrested by the CBI; Viswanath Agarwala, a middleman, and BP Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust, the institution which was barred by the MCI from admitting medical students and subsequently appealed before the Allahabad High Court and Supreme Court.
The transcript has references to alleged payoffs. “In light of the convoluted course that the case followed and in light of these tapped telephonic conversations, this matter needs an independent investigation to ascertain the veracity of the claims being made in the conversations,of the plans to allegedly pay bribes to procure favourable order in the case…and to clear the doubt about the role of the present Chief Justice of india.”
Besides the transcripts of tapped conversations, the FIR and copies of judgments in the Prasad Education Trust/MCI case, the annexures include pages from the Preliminary Inquiry report of the CBI.
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