Long after the mockery of Justice Markandey Katju in the sacred Court room of the Surpeme Court, today another incident happened that shook the entire judiciary. Following at the heels are still the allegations made by the Calcutta High Court Judge, CS Karnan, who is currently serving a sentence in the Tihar Jail.
This year the Supreme Court has seen many incidents that have directly questioned the reputation and the transparency of the temple of justice. The Supreme Court has been all closed to allow any changes initiated by the Legislature, which are shot down as being violative of the basic structure or, seen as an intrusion upon the sphere of judicial autonomy by the legislature and the executive.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2015 has been shot down and the Court favours the conventional collegium system. Meanwhile another law that seeks to stir the hornet’s nest will be the Judges Accountability bill that was last passed by the previous Rajya Sabha in 2012, and since then has lapsed. The bill was not passed due to objections from jurists and judges.
The Judiciary today was faced by a question regarding the order by Justice Jasti Chelameshwar who was hearing a very serious case. The case pertained to a private medical college in Lucknow, which was in appeal in the SC. It was alleged in the petition by the lawyer(s) that Justice Quddusi of the Orissa High Court had lobbied for the medical college and had bribed the judges in the Supreme Court. The allegations were grave enough to implicate the CJI in taking the bribe and been subjected to a FIR for the same.
This allegation was more than enough for any honest judge to fume and ‘order’ a five judge bench hear the matter and deliberate upon it. There was another case that was presented by Mr Prashant Bhushan who was asked by the CJI to read out the FIR where his name was mentioned, and Mr Bhushan read out the FIR in the Court room.
The Court room had all the office bearers of the SCBA present and the Judges threatened Mr Bhushan and Ms Jaiswal of contempt and did not let him present his case. He was escorted out later by his juniors after things became ugly. The press was subjected to the will of the CJI to report the matter, and the CJI chose to uphold the freedom of press.
The ratio behind the decision was that the CJI being the senior most among equals, is but the has the last say in the administrative domain of the SC, thus only he may allocate benches and order the taking up cases by a larger bench.
The conduct today in the Supreme Court was not at all expected. This reminds the author of the Parliament where there are moments that belie all the senses of civility. The judgment delivered today has unfortunately made the CJI a judge to his own cause!
The matter deserved a better ear, and it needs to weed out any shroud of doubt the common man may have had regarding the serious allegation made in open Court.
The Judiciary will have to move towards more transparent system to affirm the faith of the masses in the democratic credentials of the Indian nation.