Unprecedented drama in Supreme Court as Prashant Bhushan storms out of hearing

A Supreme Court bench disposed of a case related to the delay in finalising the new procedure to appoint judges

A Supreme Court bench disposed of a case related to the delay in finalising the new procedure to appoint judges

The Supreme Court on Friday turned down a request of a lawyer to gag the media from reporting a high-voltage hearing, reflecting a tussle among its judges on the setting up of a bench to deal with a graft case allegedly involving judges.

In September, the CBI had arrested retired Orissa High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi and five others, including the chairman of a private medical college in Lucknow, in connection with the medical admission scam case.

The CBI had recovered Rs 1 cr from Agrawala during a raid conducted in Delhi.

The petitioners believed there would be a conflict of interest if Misra was involved in hearing the case. The first judicial pay commission, headed by Justice Jagannatha Shetty, was set up in March 1996 and it submitted its report in November 1999.

"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.

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In an unprecedented turn of events, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court today junked an order passed by Justice J Chelameswar, which had referred a Medical Council of India (MCI) scam to a constitution bench of the top court.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a PIL filed by a lawyer challenging the appointment of four judges to the apex court-justices A.M. Kanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud, M.M. Shantanagouder and L. Nageswara Rao in July 2016.

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 needs to be delivered", the bench said.

It is up to judges to decide whether to opt out of cases they are assigned to or may have links to.

As some lawyers wanted the bench to haul up Bhushan for contempt, CJI Misra said: "He is not worth contempt". 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. The investigating agency said the group had colluded to bribe judges.

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"You are doubting the integrity of everybody in the system", Justice Mishra, who is not among the top five senior judges, said. "There can not be a command or order directing Chief Justice of India to constitute a particular kind of a bench".

The apex court had yesterday referred to the constitution bench, a plea alleging that bribes were being taken using the names of apex court judges, promising to secure favourable settlement of a case. The lawyers also alleged forum shopping by the petitioners, reports say. The matter came up for hearing in the Bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice D Gupta, which set November 22 as the next date of hearing.

The CJI retorted by asking Bhushan, who was accompanied by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, one of the petitioners, to read the contents of the FIR and warned against losing his temper.

The petition by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) seeking an independent court monitored investigation in this case, by a SIT headed by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was mentioned for urgent listing before court number 2.

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