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Supreme Court challenged Again!
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Once again the integrity of the Supreme Court (SC) has been challenged. This time the challenger is redoubtable. He is a former Law Minister and veteran lawyer. On Thursday Mr Shanti Bhushan moved an application in the SC accusing eight former Chief Justices of India (CJI) for being corrupt. He dared the Court to send him to jail for contempt of court. He submitted a list of sixteen former CJIs and claimed that eight of them were “definitely corrupt”. His list included former CJIs Ranganath Mishra, KN Singh, MH Kania, LM Sharma, MN Venkatachaliyah, AM Ahmadi, JS Verma, MM Puchhi, AS Anand, SP Barucha, BN Kirpal, GB Patnaik, Rajendra Babu, RC Lahoti, VN Khare and YK Sabharwal. Bhushan claimed that two former CJIs were the source of his information. This application not surprisingly created a sensation given the gravity of the charge and the status of the applicant.
Shanti Bhushan’s son, Prashant Bhushan, himself an eminent lawyer, is currently facing contempt of court proceedings in SC. Shanti Bhushan said that he fully endorsed the views of his son regarding alleged misconduct of the judiciary. If his son was to be jailed he too should be jailed. However, this is not the first time that the integrity of the SC has been openly challenged within the precincts of the court. Something similar happened during the hearings of the Jain Hawala Case in the mid-nineteen nineties that was curiously buried with the media virtually ignoring the event.
On that occasion Mr Vineet Narain, the chief petitioner among four who had filed the Jain Hawala Case application in the SC, edited a small relatively obscure journal. In it he alleged that the Judges hearing the case were being blackmailed into compliance because one of the accused had succeeded in comprising them in acts of moral turpitude and corruption. Prashant Bhushan was one of the four petitioners in the Jain Hawala Case. Surprisingly the SC ignored the allegations levelled by Narain.
However the Supreme Court Bar Council filed a contempt case against Narain. In the hearing one of the accused Judges admitted that he had indeed visited the residence of one of the accused but he was unaware of his identity at the time. The obvious question that after he realized the identity of his host why he did not remove himself from the bench hearing the case was never addressed. Astonishingly enough, the SC dismissed the case filed by the Bar Council and merely criticized the accused of irresponsibility. Despite the shocking allegations made by him against sitting SC Judges Narain was not hauled up for contempt and duly punished. The defamation case was quietly buried. The mainstream media remained silent. Can one be blamed for drawing unflattering conclusions about the SC after that event?
This time around matters may not end the same way. The challenger is not an editor of an obscure journal. He is a former Law Minister. How can the case be buried quietly or the media ignore it? This episode could become a game-changer.
|More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri|
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09/17/2010 20:39 PM
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