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Justice AK Patnaik to Probe Alleged Conspiracy to Target CJI

Live Law |
CBI, IB, Delhi Police asked to assist inquiry, ‘seize relevant material in order to support contents of affidavit’ furnished by advocate Bains.
ranjan gogoi and Utsav Bains

Image Courtesy: Live Law

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Arun Misra, R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta on Thursday ordered that former Supreme Court judge Justice A K Patnaik will hold an inquiry into alleged conspiracy by ‘fixers and disgruntled’ employees against Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.

The Court said that the chiefs of Central Bureau of investigation, Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau will provide assistance to Justice Patnaik, who was earlier appointed by the SC to probe the allegations against former CBI Director Alok Verma.

The Court has also rejected the claim of privilege raised by Advocate Utsav Bains and has directed him to divulge all information regarding the issue to the probe team.

Bains had filed an affidavit in the suo moto proceedings initiated by the Court alleging that the sexual harassment allegations against CJI were part of a larger conspiracy by fixers and plotters to frame the CJI and stated that he was offered Rs.1.5 crore by a SC fixer for that purpose.

The bench had heard Bains on the issue on Wednesday and observed: "He (Bains) has given an affidavit in Court in a sealed cover. The same is taken on record. It is to be kept in a sealed cover in total confidentiality, as it contains highly sensitive information pertaining to the alleged conspiracy, according to him, to frame Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India into a case of sexual harassment. In that connection, he has stated to have met with certain persons at certain places. He has further mentioned in the affidavit that disgruntled employees have ganged together in order to frame Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India in the false charge of sexual harassment after their dismissal from their services. He has named in particular, names of Tapan Kumar Chakraborty and Manav Sharma and others".

The Court then directed the chiefs of CBI, Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau to "seize the relevant material in order to support the contents of the affidavit" furnished by Bains.

The bench had also clarified that this proceeding will not affect the in-house enquiry by the panel of Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee regarding sexual harassment allegations raised by the former Junior Court Staff against the CJI. Bains had refused to share names in his affidavit stating that they are "privileged communications under Advocates Act".

However, the Attorney General rebutted this claim and said that the claim of privilege under Section 126 Indian Evidence Act is not applicable to communications between him and alleged fixers/conspirators. "According to him, someone came to him with 50 L. He doesn't have a client. So there is no application of Section 126", said K K Venugopal.

This special bench was constituted on April 22 to continue hearing the suo motu proceedings initiated by the SC on April 20 in the wake of allegations against CJI. On April 20, a special sitting of a bench of CJI Gogoi, Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna was held, which was stated to be on the basis of a suo motu case registered on a mention by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to deal with a "a matter of 'great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary'.

During the session, the CJI mentioned that four online news portals had published reports of a sexual harassment charge against him brought by a former SC staff. The CJI dismissed the allegations as a "plot to deactivate the office of CJI".

The Attorney General, Solicitor General and the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association concurred with the CJI and termed the allegations as an attack on judicial independence.

Courtesy: Live Law

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