Former Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd.) Kurian Joseph has issued a statement on a three-judge Bench's decision to launch a detailed examination into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary.
On August 17, a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, also decided to hear arguments on laying down a procedure to be adopted if such statements of corruption are made in public against sitting as well as retired judges.
The Bench framed the two questions while hearing a contempt case initiated against advocate Prashant Bhushan for his remarks on corruption in judiciary in an interview to Tehelka magazine published in 2009.
Here is the full text of the statement:
A three Judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has decided to hear a few serious questions on the scope and extent of contempt of Court. Certainly, there are more graver issues, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution of India. For example, whether a person convicted by the Supreme Court of India in a suo-motu case should get an opportunity for an intra-court appeal since in all other situations of conviction in criminal matters, the convicted person is entitled to have a second opportunity by way of an appeal. Under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, an intra-court appeal is provided where the order is passed by the single Judge of the High Court and in case it is by the Division Bench, appeal lies to the Supreme Court of India. This safeguard is provided probably to avoid even the remotest possibility of miscarriage of justice. Should there not be such a safeguard in the other Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of India also, when there is a conviction in a suo-motu criminal contempt case? “Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum” (let justice be done though the heavens fall) is the fundamental basis of administration of justice by Courts. But, if justice is not done or if there is miscarriage of justice, heavens will certainly fall. The Supreme Court of India should not let it happen.
Under Article 145 (3) of the Constitution of India, there shall be a quorum of minimum five Judges for deciding any case involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. In both the suo-motu contempt cases, in view of the substantial questions of law on the interpretation of the Constitution of India and having serious repercussions on the fundamental rights, the matters require to be heard by a Constitution Bench. In the case of suo-motu contempt against Justice C. S. Karnan, it was the collective wisdom of the full court of the Supreme Court that the matter should be heard at least by a bench consisting of the seven senior-most Judges. The present contempt cases are not cases involving just one or two individuals; but larger issues pertaining to the concept and jurisprudence of the Country regarding justice itself. Important cases like these need to be heard elaborately in a physical hearing where only there is scope for a broader discussion and wider participation.
Men may come and men may go, but the Supreme Court of India should remain forever as the court of supreme justice.
Justice (Retd.) Kurian Joseph