Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the bench to order a court-monitored probe by an special investigation team (SIT) so that truth can come out.
Stung by alleged claims of “fixers” at work and manipulating the top judiciary, the Supreme Court Wednesday said it would “inquire, inquire and inquire” till it gets to root of whether sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi was part of a “larger conspiracy” to “frame” him.
On a day of dramatic developments when the chiefs of the CBI, IB and Delhi Police were also summoned to the court, a special bench took serious note of the sensational claims of advocate Utsav Singh Bains, who has filed an affidavit alleging “larger conspiracy” to frame the CJI.
After meeting the top officials, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra made it clear that it will “not tolerate” any nuisance.
The bench hinted that the “very disturbing” episode which led to allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Gogoi may be a handiwork of some disgruntled employees and the complainant woman who were dismissed from service.
“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,” the bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta, said.
“Fixing has no role to play in the system. We will inquire and take it to the logical end,” the bench said, adding, “Are they thinking that they can fix judges? Should we keep our eyes close? Entire country will lose faith in the judiciary”.
The court gave about 25 minutes time to Directors of CBI, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Delhi Police Commissioner to appear and meet the three judges of the bench in chamber at 12.30 PM.
After meeting the three top officials, the bench again re-assembled at 3 PM and said the “fixing part” as alleged by the lawyer in his affidavit was a “matter of great concern” for the judiciary. “He (Bains) says fixing is going on. The fixing part is a matter of great concern for this institution. Fixing is not known to this institution. If he is saying there are fixers, then we want to go to the root of the matter as to how this allegation of fixing has come? Who are these fixers? They have no role to play in the system.
We are going to inquire, inquire and inquire and go deep into its root,” it said. “We will not tolerate this nuisance. We will not tolerate if this affidavit is wrong. But we will look into it as he (Bains) is an officer of this court.” “Considering the seriousness of the allegations as the system has absolutely no place for such fixers, we cannot leave the matter at that. It becomes our responsibility to keep this institution clean as well as to ensure that the image of this institution is not tarnished by such allegations to undertake the probe in the matter,” the bench said. The bench also clarified that there is no connection between the hearing of Bains’ claims of larger conspiracy and the in-house inquiry ordered into the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI. During the hearing in a jam packed courtroom, the bench hailed Justice Gogoi for his stern approach in dealing with complaints against apex court employees on the charges of wrong doings. “Never in the history, any CJI has taken such an action,” Justice Mishra said, adding, “This action has been taken by the CJI for the first time in the history of India. This was happening around in the past also but no CJI had the courage to do this.”
“Employees were dismissed. No CJI had dared to take action. This CJI (Justice Gogoi) has taken action. May be these disgruntled employees along with some officers of registry and the woman have ganged up. This will require an inquiry,” the bench said, adding, “The truth must come out.” The bench took note of claims by Bains that he will not disclose entire material as some portions were protected under the Advocates Act as being part of privileged communications. “In case such a conspiracy is involved, can somebody claim that communications are privileged? This is a question of law that we want to decide. We want to hear you (Attorney General) on this. In criminal law, I do not think anyone can say this but I may be wrong also.
Please assist us on this,” Justice Mishra told Attorney General K K Venugopal. To this, Venugopal said, “I do not understand how a person can make allegations and then say he will not file materials claiming privileged communications.” The bench, which posted the matter for hearing Thursday at 10.30 AM, said that it would deal with this legal question. “Serious issues have been raised. It is not only about the CJI.
It is about other judges also,” the bench said. At the outset, Bains filed the affidavit along with certain documents in a sealed cover before the court and the bench, after perusing them, said there were sensitive materials and asked Venugopal, “Can you call some responsible officers from the CBI, preferably the director? Can you call him to meet us in our chambers?”. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the bench to order a court-monitored probe by an special investigation team (SIT) so that truth can come out. During the hearing in the post-lunch session, Bains handed over to the bench a hand-written affidavit and later, he said that he be allowed to file another affidavit as he has some more “critical” and “incriminating materials”.
The bench allowed his request and said he can file the affidavit by 10.30 AM Thursday. Bains had filed an affidavit following the unprecedented hearing on Saturday during which Justice Gogoi had said some “bigger force” was behind the sexual harassment allegations as they wanted to “deactivate” the CJI’s office. Justice Gogoi has rubbished the allegations.