Judiciary and Corruption

Prashant Bhushan provides evidence

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | September 20, 2010




Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is facing contempt of the court for leveling corruption charges against former CJIs, has reiterated his charges in a fresh affidavit before the supreme court, saying that half of the last 16 to 17 chief justices have been corrupt. He says his charges are based on his “perception based on some documentary, some oral and some circumstantial evidence, material and information”.

He takes “corruption” in a wider sense that the apex court had defined in Dr S Dutt vs State of UP case of 1966: “The word ‘corrupt’ does not necessarily include the element of bribe taking. It is used in a much larger sense as denoting conduct which is morally unsound or debased.”

Here are some of the evidences he provides in his affidavit:

Justice Ranganath Mishra: The affidavit says Justice Mishra conducted his probe into the anti-Sikh riots of 2984 “in a highly biased manner and went on to give a clean chit to the Congress party despite there being considerable evidence implicating senior leaders of the Congress party”. He went on to become a Rajya Sabha member after retirement. “Such actions to my mind clearly smack of corruption”, Prashant Bhushan says.

Justice KN Singh: The affidavit points to a series of orders passed to favour Jain Exports and its sister concern Jain Shudh Vanaspati during his 18-day tenure, which became “much talked about scandal in the court even while he was chief justice”. These orders were later overturned by other benches of the apex court.

Justice AM Ahmadi: He diluted the charges against the Union Carbide in the Bhopal gas leak case, from culpable homicide to a mere accident. “This judgment of quashing the charges of culpable homicide before the trial not only delayed the trial but led to such miscarriage of justice that the supreme court has thought it fit to issue notice on a curative petition filed by the CBI”.
The affidavit further says Justice Ahmadi as CJI purchased a plot of land and built a palatial house in Kant Enclave in Faridabad which was “completely illegal and in violation of the supreme court’s judgments as well as the Forest Conservation Act (which) has now been emphatically stated by the supreme court itself in its order dated 14/5/08”. Ahmadi went on to dilute the restrictions placed by the apex court bench headed by Justice Kuldip Singh on construction activities around Badkal and Surajkund lakes. The CEC went on to recommend demolition of the houses of Kant Enclave, including that of Justice Ahmadi, in its report in January 2009.

Justice MM Punchhi: A move to impeach him had been made but it failed due to lack of requisite number of signatories (50 Rajya Sabha members or 100 Lok Sabha members). Several charges had been made against him, including allotment of land in Gurgaon from the discretionary quota of Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal to his two daughters the day he threw out a writ, as a judge of Punjab and Haryana HC, making serious allegations of malafides against the Bisnoi leader.

Justice AS Anand: He has been accused of passing favourable order to a person “after he had accepted gratification” from the same person in the form of a land in Ganderbal. He “abused his office and influence as a judge and chief justice of the J&K high court to hold on to the ownership of agricultural land which should have been vested in the government under the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act of 1976”. He also got land in Jammu at a throw away price from the state government.

Justice YK Sabharwal: He provoked a series of events that led to this contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan. The affidavit says how his sons profited from his orders regarding sealing of commercial properties in residential areas of Delhi and how the sons ran their business from the official residence of the CJI.

The affidavit says Justice Sabharwal’s sons got commercial plots in Noida at highly concessional rates from the Mulayam Singh government at a time when he was hearing the case of Amar Singh’s tapes, the publication of which he had stayed. Also how his sons, who “till he started dealing with the sealing case, were small traders having a turnover of less than Rs 2 crore” went on to buy a property of Rs 15.43 crore in Maharani Bagh in 2007 and, bought a  property at 7, Sikandara Road fro Rs 122 crore in April this year.

The affidavit explains why it is difficult to come by direct evidence of corruption against the higher judiciary –i) no investigation is allowed into charges of corruption against the higher judiciary; ii) no disciplinary authority to inquire into or take action against higher judiciary; iii) even registration of FIR and regular criminal proceedings are prohibited without written permission of the CJI which “has hardly ever been given” and iv) “the fear of contempt of court”.

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