Instead of complaining to their appointing authority – the President, the four Supreme Court Judges (SCJs) went to media – By acts of commission 4 SCJs committed criminal contempt by scandalising Supreme Court of India (SCI) – Chief Justice of India (CJI), not initiating contempt proceedings against 4 SCJs under section 2 ( c) read with section 15 and 16 of Contempt of Court Act – By acts of omission CJI is also now committing criminal contempt – Silence of President and Prime Minister of India is dereliction of their constitutional duty to discipline SCI.
How much the integrity of Supreme Court of India (SCI) is important for the health and proper functioning of democracy in India, that hardly needs any elaboration. On January 12, 2018 India was appalled to watch on TV that four Supreme Court Judges (SCJs) addressing a press conference where they not only released a letter written by them to Chief Justice of India (CJI), but to a query by media during said press conference one of the 4 Judges also said to the effect that the case of Late Judge Loya is also the reason for the lack of confidence of these four SCJs in CJI.
The case of Judge Loya is regarding his death which is allegedly a murder because he (who allegedly refused to accept the bribe of Rs 1,000 million and a house in Mumbai from Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Mohit Shah in lieu of favourable order to Amit Shah as reported. Amit Shah, as mentioned in various reports, was listening to the fake encounter case of one Sohrabuddin in which present Chief of BJP (the party ruling at Centre and in many States of India) Amit Shah is a suspect. Amit Shah was then Home Minister in Gujarat (during the Chief Ministership of Modi, who is presently the PM of India) and at one time, Amit Shah (who is very close to PM Modi) held 12 portfolios (Home, Law and Justice, Prison, Border Security, Civil Defence, Excise, Transport, Prohibition, Home Guards, Gram Rakshak Dal, Police Housing, and Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs) in the government of then CM Modi.
These four SCJs, instead of complaining against CJI to their appointing authority — the President of India, who would have initiated impeachment proceeding against CJI in case charges hurled by these 4 SCJs against CJI were found prima-facie true by President; but these four SCJs preferred to go to the public through media.
In said letter, released to press on January 12, the four SCJs said that “There have been instances where cases having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justice of this Court selectively to the Benches “of their preferences” without any rational basis for such assignment. We are not mentioning details early to avoid embarrassing the institution”. In November 2017 (in a controversy about jurisdiction between CJI and one of these four SCJs) the veiled allegations were made by a petitioner against CJI about the arrest of former Odisha High Court Judge by CBI for allegedly taking a bribe to fix a case in SCI relating to a medical college. Clearly during press conference of January 12, these four SCJs have accused CJI of bench-fixing with the criminal intent of:
(A) Favouring the present ruling dispensation of Union of India
(B) Hiding the criminalisation of SCI
This is scandalising and lowering the authority of SCI and which is a criminal contempt by these four SCJs under section 2 (c) of Contempt of Court Act. The CJI should have initiated (with a copy to President of India) the contempt proceeding against these four SCJs (on January 12 after said press conference by these four SCJs) but for the reasons best known to CJI (maybe he is afraid because these four SCJs may be having solid prove to establish said bench-fixing by CJI) the CJI has preferred to remain silent.
But what is more horrifying is the silence of President and Prime Minister of India in this matter because Judges of courts-of-record (the SCI and High Courts) cannot be prosecuted by anyone other than the Parliament through impeachment. Hence, in this matter President (under Article 86 and 143 of the Constitution or otherwise) and the Prime Minister should have seen to it that the impeachment proceedings against all of these 5 Judges (CJI and said 4 SCJs) are initiated under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution (on the contrary government of India has reportedly said that it is an internal matter of SCI and it will be solved by SCI itself as if thorough criminalisation of SCI is an internal matter of SCI).
India expects that as mentioned above the President and Prime Minister of India, even now, will rise to the occasion and will discipline SCI through impeachment proceedings under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution.
(The writer is the author of ‘Betrayal of Americanism’)
By Hem Raj Jain