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11 November 2017, 01:04 | Simon Arnold
Supreme Court of India
"Have you ever seen a two-judge bench directing that a bench will be constituted like this?"
Justice Arun Mishra, part of the special bench, took pot shots at Justice Chelameswar's order and asked: "Can a 2 judge bench refer a matter to particular 5-judge bench?"
"Extraordinary proceedings in SC today in the case seeking SIT Investigation in medical college bribery case involving the CJI!"
It also said that unless the position about the CJI's powers "is clearly stated, there will be utter confusion" and affect the court's smooth functioning. If somebody is presuming something, we can not help it.
Earlier, complaining that he was not being allowed to speak, an emotional Prashant Bhushan told the bench it can do whatever it wanted, as fellow lawyers heckled him while he was leaving.
Members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), including its President R S Suri, vice-president Ajit Sinha, Secretary Gaurav Bhatia and several senior advocates including Ashok Bhan, Aman Sinha and others strongly countered the allegations levelled in the petitions and said strong action should be taken against any attempt to "browbeat" the judges. The Chief Justice had made a similar point earlier this month.
"No condemnation in the court".
In their petition, A.N. Venugopala Gowda, a retired judge of the High Court, and S. Basavaraj and B.M. Arun, both advocates, have pointed out the difficulty faced by advocates, litigants and the existing 25 judges owing to delays in disposal of cases as 37 judge posts are vacant in the High Court. It also included criticism of that order, an exchange between the chief justice and lawyer Prashant Bhushan - with the latter asking the former to recuse himself from the case and the former refusing to do so, and a demand by a group of lawyers for a contempt petition against Bhushan for casting aspersions on the Chief Justice. "I am not going to pass any order restraining the press", CJI Misra said.
The Chief Justice refused to ban the press from reporting the case, stating "I believe in freedom of speech, expression".
The judge was arrested in September and is lodged in Tihar Jail here after CBI accused him of guiding the private medical college and assuring its management of favourable settlement of their cases in the Supreme Court.
The CJI told the petitioner that after the Constitution bench had upheld the collegium system of appointments and quashed the National Judcial Appointments Commission law, there was no need to go into these issues.
Aspertions were also cast on Chief Justice Dipak Misra, prompting him to hurriedly constitute a five-judge bench to scrutinise the decision of the bench of Justice Chelameswar.
Two other judges, Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan, recused themselves from the proceedings.
Making it clear that they were not underestimating the seriousness of the matter, the court in its order said let the appropriate order be passed to tag the petition with the one by Jaiswal, which was referred to a five-judges constitution bench on Thursday by the bench of Justice Chelameswar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.
Disposing the petition by lawyer R.P. Luthra, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Amitava Roy recalled the October 27 order by a two-Judge bench relating to delay in the finalisation of the memorandum of procedure.
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