Previous chief justice of India Altamas Kabir has rejected the allegation by Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya that he had blocked Bhattacharyas elevation to the Supreme Court because,as a member of the collegium of the Calcutta High Court,Bhattacharya had opposed the appointment of Kabirs lawyer sister to the bench.
In a letter written to Bhattacharya on Monday copies of which were sent to the President and the Prime Minister and made public on Tuesday Kabir has said Bhattacharya knows how decisions are taken by the collegium and the decision to not elevate Bhattacharya was a collective decision.
You have made insensitive references to my sisters elevation as a judge of the Calcutta High Court,and have made it appear from your letter that because of your objection to her elevation,I had prevented you from coming to the Supreme Court, Kabir wrote in the letter. You know that it is far from the truth,since I had no hand in her elevation at all,having recused myself completely from the matter.
As a former member of the collegium…you are fully aware how the collegium functions and how decisions are taken by the collegium, Kabir wrote. In your case,the matter was before a collegium consisting of five-judges,who took a unanimous decision. The decision was a collective decision and not that of an individual,as you seem to impute.
Since you have forwarded copies of your letter to the President and the Prime Minister,which has given a completely wrong picture of the entire matter,I am also doing the same,in order to clear the doubts which your letter has created in peoples minds and which the press has capitalised on to make out a story which would have saleable value.
In a statement issued on Tuesday,the former CJI also refuted a July 12 report in The Indian Express about Bhattacharyas complaint to the President and the Prime Minister about Kabir blocking his elevation.
Kabir said the report attributing personal bias on his part to prevent the elevation of Bhattacharya betrayed complete ignorance as to how collegium system functions.
It is unfortunate that although in the case of the Gujarat CJ the decision of the collegium was unanimous,the matter was reported in such a manner so as to give an impression that it was my individual bias which prevented the Gujarat CJ from being given a berth in the SC, he said in a statement,adding that the collegium comprised of five most senior judges of the SC.
Kabirs press statement also refuted a report in The Times of India this month that claimed he made an attempt to elevate a HC judge just 15 days before his retirement but this was scuttled by other judges in the collegium.
He also repudiated media reports that had raised questions about his decision to grant more time to Sahara Group for refunding Rs 24,000 crore to investors although another bench of the SC was already seized of the matter and had come down hard on the group over the delay in returning the money raised through illegal debentures.
Kabir said these reports were clearly intended to lower his image before the public and that he was compelled to clarify since people close to him had begun asking questions.