Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Supreme Court rejects PIL on appointment of judges

PTI file image PTI file image
Dexter Carr | 11 November, 2017, 01:03

The said petition was being heard by a bench headed by the present Chief Justice of India.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice John Michael Cunha adjourned hearing while seeking the details of a recent order of a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court related to the memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. The first judicial pay commission, headed by Justice Jagannatha Shetty, was set up in March 1996 and it submitted its report in November 1999. No eligibility criteria for the appointment of judges to the apex court are laid down till date, and in absence of the same, the elements of nepotism, favoritism and arbitrariness can not be ruled out.

"But, at the same time, we are also duty bound to place the developments that when the hearing of the matter was in progress, the Officer of the Registry placed a xerox copy of the proceedings purportedly issued by Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India, a copy of which is annexed to this Order", Justice Chelameswar writes in the order.

The proceedings led to heated arguments between the bench and lawyers, some of whom wanted contempt proceedings initiated against the petitioners for sullying the image of the Supreme Court. The five-judge bench which upturned Chief Justice Chelmeswar's order comprised of CJI Dipak Misra, Justices RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar.

It also said that unless the position about the CJI's powers "is clearly stated, there will be utter confusion" and affect the court's smooth functioning.

The hearing in the jampacked courtroom saw allegations flying thick and fast with Bhushan even raising his pitch while asking the CJI to recuse himself from hearing the matter as his name has allegedly figured in the CBI's FIR.

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The five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice today observed that he alone can call a constitution bench because that is "the principle of law, judicial discipline and decorum of court".

Justice Quddusi had, according to the CBI, offered to ensure that the Supreme Court would rule in favour of a medical college in Lucknow that was seeking to reverse its blacklisting by the government. The two were accused of assuring the college representative of getting favourable orders from the top court.

Bhushan left the court in a huff midway during the hearing, alleging that he was not being allowed to speak while the court has heard "all and sundry".

"When the matter was mentioned on November 8 and directed to be listed a before an appropriate bench, then what was the need to file a second petition before Court number 2 yesterday". This led to the arrest of former Odisha High Court judge IM Quddusi and four others. Given the seriousness of the matter, the judge chose to take up the petition in the afternoon.

He said another similar plea was slated to come up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri today but Bhushan mentioned an identical plea yesterday and an order was passed for setting up of a five-judge bench to hear the case. Snubbing Justice Chelameswa, CJI Misra said that he was the the master of the roster adding that judges could not assign matters to themselves. The bench also impleaded the Supreme Court Bar Association in the petition on the forum's request.

The names of the college's trustees B P Yadav and Palash Yadav is also there in the FIR lodged by the CBI.

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