Plea for investigation cannot be termed as contemptuous: CJAR files review in SC

Published on 06 Jan 2018 by Team

Image courtesy- Barandbench

Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) has filed a petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s decision to impose costs of Rs. 25 lakh on it, in the case related to the medical college bribery investigation.

In the review petition filed yesterday, CJAR has contended that the judgment passed by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on December 1 last year suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record.

It states,

“Given the seminal importance of this Hon’ble Court’s role in Indian democracy, it is crucial that this institution, which is the final arbiter of the Constitution and the last sentinel guarding every citizen’s fundamental rights against encroachment by the government, is protected from any attempt to compromise its integrity and independence…”

By way of background, CJAR had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an ex-CJI to probe allegations of impropriety raised in the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

This, after the CBI in its FIR had implicated former Orissa High Court judge IM Quddusi in a conspiracy related to opening of medical colleges. The FIR had stated that Quddusi had made an attempt to influence members of the higher judiciary to get a favourable ruling for one Prasad Educational Trust.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had previously heard a batch of matters relating to opening of medical colleges.

Following a controversial chain of events, the apex court had dismissed CJAR’s plea, and had imposed costs of Rs. 25 lakh on the organization. It had also dismissed a similar petition filed by Kamini Jaiswal.

The review petition states that the Court had erred in rejecting the prayer for an SIT on the ground that the original writ petition had wrongly mentioned that the FIR had named members of the higher judiciary.

“The writ petition nowhere mentions that the FIR was against the sitting judge of this Hon’ble Court. As rightly held by this Hon’ble Court, no such FIR is even possible without permission of the Hon’ble CJI in view of the judgment of Veeraswami Case.”

It has also pointed out that,

“Furthermore, mere initiation of independent investigation as regards the allegations in a CBI FIR on attempts to procure order by paying bribes does not per se impinge on the honesty and reputation of the judges concerned. Therefore, a bonafide plea for investigation into bribery allegations raised in a FIR registered by the CBI in itself cannot be labelled as contemptuous and scandalous.

Moreover, allowing a SIT headed by a retired judge of this Hon’ble Court to investigate the allegations made in the CBI FIR of procuring orders through illegal means, as opposed to the investigation by the CBI which is controlled by the executive, only ensures the protection of the judiciary from baseless harassment.”

CJAR also avers that the Bench had made an error while observing that the Court had not passed any orders in favour of the Prasad Education Trust. Though the Court did not allow the medical college in question permission to start operations in the coming year, CJAR contends that it had indeed passed orders in favours of the Trust, including the stay on encashment of the bank guarantee of Rs. 2 crore.

As regards the imposition of costs, the petition states,

“It is respectfully submitted that mere dismissal of a similar petition does not disentitle the Petitioner to another petition, that too, one which was filed first, seeking similar prayer from placing its case before this Hon’ble Court.

It is respectfully submitted that it is a settled law that no one can be penalized without affording an opportunity to the person to explain why such penalty should not be imposed on him. In the present case, no such opportunity was afforded to the Petitioner. Thus, the direction to impose cost of Rs. 25 lakhs is in violation of principle of natural justice and also in violation of Rule of Law.”

It is also highlighted in the petition that the same judges who had heard the medical colleges cases had heard the petition filed by CJAR, and that amounted to being judges in their own cause.

“…this Hon’ble Court did not appreciate that propriety demands that none of the judges, who has been part of the bench hearing the said medical college case, which is the subject matter of the investigation, should have been part of the bench hearing the present writ petition. It is submitted that when the Petitioner prays for recusal of any judge from hearing the petition, it is not trying to suggest in any manner that the said judge had been party to the alleged conspiracy to influence the outcome of the pending matter nor does it doubt the integrity and impartiality of the said judge…

…Further, the legal principle of jurisprudence, nemo judex in causa sua is founded on the principle that no person shall be a judge in his own cause. It is not the Petitioner’s case that any of the sitting judges has been named in the said FIR which disqualifies him from hearing the present writ petition. Instead, it is the subject matter of the investigation, namely the case related to a medical college, which makes the case for recusal of a judge, who was part of the bench hearing the said matter.”

Therefore, it has been prayed that the Supreme Court’s judgment dated December 1 be reviewed.

Source- Barandbench

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