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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 July 2024

Mixed bag as probe into alleged framing of CJI concludes

Justice Patnaik panel said to have found substance in some charges but not actionable proof

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 12.08.19, 10:11 PM
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. (Telegraph file picture)

The Justice A.K. Patnaik panel probing an alleged corporate-underworld conspiracy to malign Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has found substance in some of the claims but not enough actionable evidence, sources said.

The key charges, aired by a lawyer, revolved around two factors: that he was approached by a person for help to hold a media conference in exchange for money to accuse the Chief Justice of sexual harassment.

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The media conference did not take place but Justice Gogoi was eventually accused of sexual harassment, a charge dismissed by a Supreme Court in-house panel under controversial circumstances.

The second charge by the lawyer, Utsav Bains, was that a “corporate figure” who had unsuccessfully tried to fix the outcome of a case was behind the alleged attempt to frame the Chief Justice.

Tasked by a Supreme Court bench to look into the alleged conspiracy, the one-member Justice Patnaik committee has now completed

its inquiry and is expected to submit its report in the first week of September, the sources said.

The committee is likely to ask the top court to order a deeper probe by a specialised agency or suggest measures to make the registry immune to any extraneous influence, the sources added.

Justice Patnaik, a retired Supreme Court judge, is now said to be writing a report on his findings after conducting a detailed probe examining voluminous material and the testimonies of several officials from the CBI, IB, Delhi police, complainant Bains, a large number of registry employees and some individuals.

The sources said Bains’s allegations appeared to be partly true with regard to a section of the registry staff reportedly attempting to fix benches in certain matters and the attempt by some unknown persons to convene a media conference on the conduct of the Chief Justice of India.

However, the complainant could not provide further material about the identity of the persons, the sources said.

Bains is said to have provided material that indicated a nexus between a section of the registry staff and corporate lobbies to fix benches. But here, too, the probe is said to have hit a dead end.

Yet, the sources said, Bains’s allegations cannot be brushed aside as there seemed to be a deep-rooted malaise in the functioning of the Supreme Court registry, which may require an overhaul. The probe panel cannot overlook the material collected by it, which may warrant further probe into the allegations, the sources added.

Two senior employees holding the rank of deputy registrars and working as court masters were sacked earlier this year by the Chief Justice for allegedly tampering with a judicial order to reportedly exempt industrialist Anil Ambani’s presence in a contempt case.

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