The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a constitution bench, comprising five senior-most judges, a plea claiming that alleged bribes were being taken using the names of apex court judges promising to secure favourable settlement of a case.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer issued notices to the Centre and the CBI on the plea seeking setting up of a special investigation team (SIT), to be headed by a retired Chief Justice of India, to probe the matter.
Office-bearers of the powerful Supreme Court Bar Association - led by its president and senior advocate R.S. Suri, some senior advocates, and other lawyers - accused the trio of browbeating the court with their petitions.
There needs to be judicial discipline, the Constitution Bench agreed with the government law officer.
In effect annulling Justice Chelameswar's order, the Constitution Bench held that "there can not be any kind of command directing the CJI to constitute a Bench".
Pleading ignorance about the second petition, Bhushan said that since the allegations were in respect of the matter heard by the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra, he should not have exercised his administrative and judicial authority. Today's order by the bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri and Amitava Roy, assumes significance as a bench of Justices Adarsh Goel and U U Lalit had on October 27 chose to examine the issue on judicial side and issued a notice to Attorney General K K Venugopal to assist in the matter.
The hearing also witnessed heated exchanges between the Bench, advocate R P Luthra and amicus curiae K V Viswanathan who was appointed by the smaller bench. The 5-judge bench of CJI Misra was hearing a petition filed by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR). Different Chief Justices have dealt with this process in different ways. Jaiswal, represented by lawyer Dushyant Dave, had mentioned the Medical Council of India case before Justice Chelameshwar, since Misra was busy with the Constitution bench.
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The order passed on Wednesday is contrary to one passed on October 27 by a bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit which said: "We need to consider the prayer that there should be no further delay in the finalisation of MOP in the larger public interest".
On Friday, the petition filed by Prashant Bhushan - similar to Jaiswal's - came up before the bench of Justice Sikri, who expressed displeasure in the manner in which the matter was being taken up.
In a twist, the Supreme Court has recalled the order of its two-judge bench on examining the issue of delay in finalising the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges in higher judiciary.
In connection with an alleged bribery issue involving a Supreme Court Judge, the apex court on Thursday directed that the matter be listed before the Constitution Bench on Monday.
During the hearing yesterday, an officer of the apex court registry was spotted in the courtroom by Justice Chelameswar who asked him about the goal of his visit.
Chief Justice Misra challenged Mr. Bhushan to read from the FIR the part which directly accuses him in the corruption case.