Will get to root if plot is established, says Supreme Court bench
The Supreme Court has asserted that it would get to the “root” of an alleged conspiracy if it is established that “fixers” are targeting Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with allegations of sexual harassment.
The court made the announcement after calling the CBI director, the Intelligence Bureau chief and the Delhi police commissioner to a confidential meeting in chambers.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, R.F. Nariman and Deepak Gupta also warned advocate Utsav Bains, who made the claims about the conspiracy, that it would take strong action against him if his allegations were proved to be false.
The bench said Bains mentioned two Supreme Court employees who were sacked in connection with the alleged tampering of an order on the appearance of Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani in a contempt case.
“We will inquire and go to the root of alleged claims of fixers at work and manipulating the judiciary. If they continue to work, then none of us will survive.… Fixing has no role to play in the system. We will inquire and take it to the logical end,” the bench said.
In its order, the bench added: “It (Bains’s affidavit) is to be kept in a sealed cover in total confidentiality as it contains highly sensitive information pertaining to the alleged conspiracy, according to him, to frame the Chief Justice of India in a case of sexual harassment.”
It said Bains had said that he had met “certain persons at certain places”. The bench said it requested the chiefs of the CBI, the IB and Delhi police to seize relevant material in order to verify the contents of the affidavit.
The court said Bains had mentioned in his affidavit that “disgruntled employees have ganged together” in order to frame the CJI on a false charge of sexual harassment after their dismissal from service.
“He has named in particular… Tapan Kumar Chakraborty and Manav Sharma and others,” the bench noted.
The CJI had sacked the two court officials — Chakraborty and Sharma — for allegedly tampering with its January 7 order on the personal appearance of Anil Ambani in connection with a contempt matter filed against him by Swedish telecom firm Ericsson.
“A lawyer is making an allegation and stated certain things on affidavit. We will have to examine. Otherwise, the entire country will lose confidence in this institution. We are not going to tolerate it,” the bench said.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday at 10.30am when it would also examine Bains’s plea for exemption from disclosure of certain “privileged information”.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising pleaded that all women lawyers were concerned about the developments and wanted an impartial and independent inquiry.
Justice Mishra clarified that the bench was confining itself to the allegations contained in the affidavit relating to the alleged conspiracy.
Jaising said the hearing by the present bench should not prejudice the hearing to be conducted by Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana and Indira Banerjee who will look into the sexual harassment allegation levelled by a former court employee against the CJI. Justice Gogoi has denied the charge.
Justice Mishra said there would be no overlap. “The two issues cannot be linked. The two inquiries will not prejudice. This inquiry is not in supersession or would prejudice that inquiry. We are inquiring into his affidavit,” the judge added.
The former court employee who levelled the sexual harassment allegation against the CJI has expressed reservations about the composition of the three-judge panel, adds PTI.
In a letter to Justice Bobde, she objected to the presence of Justice Ramana on the panel on the ground that he was a close friend of the CJI and a regular visitor to his house.
Additional reporting by PTI