Last week, the Supreme Court saw heated arguments on plea involving alleged bribery of judges. This led to advocate Prashant Bhushan walking out of the courtroom after an exchange of words with the presiding Bench. Today, the apex court is expected to rule on the maintainability of the plea. Here are key questions on the issue answered:
What is the case?
The original case pertains to a Medical Council of India issue. The MCI had denied permission to Prasad Education Trust, an institution based in Lucknow to run a medical college. The Trust then moved court and obtained an order in its favour. The CBI raided several people related to the case based on allegations that there was collusion between the Trust and the judiciary.
These raids and further investigation led to the arrest of former Odisha High Court judge I.M. Quddusi and others. Justice Quddusi was released on bail.
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, an NGO represented by Mr. Bhushan filed a petition in the seeking an independent probe into the incident. Advocate Kamini Jaiswal also moved a similar petition.
A two-judge Bench headed by Justice Chelameswar referred the case to a five-judge Constitution Bench. The petitioners did not want Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to be on this Bench since he had handled MCI cases before.
On Friday, the Chief Justice’s court announced the formation of a new Bench, essentially scrapping Justice Chelameswar’s earlier order. During the proceedings in Court, Mr. Bhushan passed remarks that the court deemed contemptuous and he walked out.
In its order, the Bench established the Chief Justice as the ‘master of the roster,’ which means that he has the authority over constituting of Benches.
In an oral observation on Monday in the Supreme Court, Justice Arun Mishra called the allegations levelled against the CJI by Mr. Bhushan as “scurrilous and per se contemptuous.”
“The petitions [have] scandalised this great institution. The damage has already been done. Everybody is doubting the Supreme Court that too, merely on the basis of rumours spread. How do we repair this damage?” he said.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal also agreed with the judge saying there was a “crisis of confidence.”
On Tuesday, the apex court will most likely give its verdict on the maintainability of the original plea by NJAC and Ms. Jaiswal.