“You are the lords and masters of the country. You can pass any orders,” shouted senior advocate Prashant Bhushan to a five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday.
In a high-voltage hearing, Mr. Bhushan and advocate Kamini Jaiswal found themselves outnumbered by lawyers urging the Bench to initiate contempt of court proceedings against them and senior advocate Dushyant Dave.
The scheduling of the Constitution Bench hearing itself had caught many by surprise. It concerned a corruption case being investigated by the CBI.
The FIR alleges that a conspiracy was hatched to bribe Supreme Court judges to influence the outcome of a medical college case. The case in question was heard and decided by Chief Justice Misra.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Misra challenged Mr. Bhushan to read from the FIR the part which directly mentioned his involvement. When Mr. Bhushan read out a paragraph, Chief Justice Misra observed: “Mr. Bhushan, I am really sorry but now you are liable for contempt. But you are not worthy of even contempt.”
Justice Arun Mishra asked Mr. Bhushan to take back his words against the CJI.
Lawyers present in the courtroom, some by the Chief Justice’s invitation and others on their own, took turns to criticise Mr. Bhushan and urge the Bench to initiate contempt proceedings.
Questions “propriety” of the hearing
Mr. Bhushan, in his turn, loudly questioned the “propriety” of the hearing and repeatedly asked for an opportunity to make his submissions as petitioner.
At one point, Chief Justice Misra addressed him, saying “you made wild allegations against me. You can afford to lose your temper, but we cannot lose our temper. That is the beauty of this system.”
Finally, Mr. Bhushan, who was constantly interrupted, lost his cool. He shouted at the court, pointing his finger at the Bench, saying “if you want to pass orders without hearing me, please pass whatever order you want”. He then stormed out of the courtroom.
Security personnel and his colleagues escorted him through the crowded courtroom, amid loud protests from some lawyers.
“He [Mr. Bhushan] was not allowed to make his submissions while all and sundry in this courtroom were given a chance,” Ms. Jaiswal told the Bench.
Later Mr. Bhushan tweeted: “Extraordinary proceedings in SC today in a case seeking SIT investigation in medical college bribery case involving the CBI! CJI presided over a hand picked bench to override yesterday’s order referring this case to top 5 judges; This despite having a direct conflict of interest.”