New Delhi, Nov 14: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on the Lucknow Medical College judges bribery case. The case has been in the headlines after dramatic scenes witnessed in the apex court after the issue of alleged bribing of judges was raised. The bench of Justices RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanvilkar on Monday called it a “deliberate attempt to scandalise the court and judiciary”. The bench had on Monday reserved its order for Tuesday.
On Friday, petitioner and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had sought an SIT Investigation in the medical college bribery scam, accused CJI Dipak Misra of presiding over a “hand-picked bench to override yesterday’s order” by another top court bench.
During the hearing, the bench had questioned Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Kamini Jaiswal, whether filing of two identically-worded petition was not a matter of propriety and would it not tantamount to forum shopping if it is sought to be listed before a particular bench.
On November 9, a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer had ordered that the plea should be heard by a five-judge constitution bench of the senior-most judges of the apex court. However, on November 10, a five-judge constitution bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra had ruled that “no judge can take up a matter on his own, unless allocated by the chief justice of India, as he is the master of the roster”.
CJI Misra over-ruled the order of Justice Chelameswar directing a constitution bench hearing, saying “if any such order has been passed by any bench, that cannot hold the field as that will be running counter to the order passed by the constitution bench.” The showdown over the issue of supremacy of constituting a bench in which the authority of CJI was allegedly undermined by a bench headed by Justice Chelameswar.
Justice Chelameswar, who is the senior-most judge after the CJI, had termed as “disturbing” the allegations levelled in a CBI FIR and ordered setting up a bench of five top judges of the court as a petition by Jaiswal had alleged there were allegations against Justice Misra. CJI Misra’s order was heavily criticised and an exchange between the chief justice and lawyer Prashant Bhushan took place in which Bhushan asked Mishra to recuse himself from the case. However, the CJI refused to do so. A group of lawyers were also demanding a contempt petition against Bhushan for casting aspersions on the Chief Justice.