New Delhi, May 6: The Supreme Court today reserved its order on a petition that the judicial inquiry report that gave a clean chit to three Karnataka High Court judges in the Mysore sex scandal be made public.
A division bench of Justices S. Rajendra Babu and G.P. Mathur reserved orders after hearing arguments advanced by senior counsel and former Union minister Shanti Bhushan on behalf of counsel Indira Jaisingh.
The petition said the report should be made available to the public to restore its confidence in the judiciary, which might have been considerably eroded after a series of widely-reported incidents of alleged involvement of judges in various scandals.
Bhushan told the court that the matter is of “national concern” as the judiciary is considered to be the last institution the common man relies on after the failure of the executive and the legislature.
The petition also sought a thorough investigation by a “professional investigating agency” into scandals allegedly involving judges to ensure that “justice is not only done but is seen to be done”.
After the Mysore sex scandal broke out, then Chief Justice of India G.B. Pattanaik had constituted a three-judge inquiry committee — including Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice C.K. Thakker, Kerala High Court Chief Justice J.I. Gupta and Justice A.K. Patnaik of Orissa High Court — which exonerated the three judges.
Karnataka High Court has also initiated contempt proceedings against several leading publications, their editors and journalists for publishing reports linking the three judges to the scandal.
The case is pending before the Supreme Court, which is hearing appeals by the journalists. Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare, has observed that “truth is a defence” in contempt matters, but the “press should bring before the court the truth”.
Subsequently, the Delhi Development Authority land scam, involving Justice S. Mukherjee of Delhi High Court, broke out.
Within a couple of days, Justice R.S. Sodhi of the same court, while hearing a CBI case, claimed that he was being threatened by some intelligence officials, prompting former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani to write to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seeking action.
Jaisingh’s petition asking the court to make the probe report on the Karnataka judges scandal public came at this juncture.
Bhushan contended that lack of transparency would give rise to speculation and rumours and, hence, the Supreme Court had laid down the law that, in public interest, relevant information should be disclosed as far as possible.
“It is in the public interest of the credibility of the judicial system that the report of the committee be made public and the faith of the public in an open, credible and transparent justice administration system be restored,” contended the former Union minister.
Bhushan also requested the court to evolve “a mechanism for conducting a free, fair, open and impartial inquiry” to boost the public’s confidence in the functioning of the judiciary.