Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan on Thursday, appearing before a Special Bench comprising of Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and Dattu alleged that 8 of the former 16 Chief Justices of India were “definitely corrupt”.
Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan (pictured left) on Thursday, appearing before a Special Bench comprising of Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and Dattu alleged that 8 of the former 16 Chief Justices of India were “definitely corrupt”. Shanti Bhushan accused 8 former Chief Justices of India of \"corruption\", and dared the Court to send him to jail for committing \"contempt of court\".
The 8 allegedly corrupt Chief Justices listed by Shanti Bhushan figure among the 16 CJI since Justice Ranganath Misra till Justice Y.K. Sabharwal. Justice Ranganath Misra assumed his post as the CJI in 1990, while Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, retired in 2007. The Supreme Court, which will hear the matter on November 10, may open the sealed letter to read about the corrupt Chief Justices during this tenure. The 16 Chief Justices of India are Justices Ranganath Misra, K.N. Singh, M.H. Kania, L.M. Sharma, M.N. Venkatachaliah, A.M. Ahmadi, J.S. Verma, M.M. Punchhi, A.S. Anand, S.P. Bharucha, B.N. Kirpal, G.B. Patnaik, Rajendra Babu, R.C. Lahoti, V.N. Khare and Y.K. Sabharwal.
History of the case:
In an interview with the weekly Tehelka, he had made certain statements regarding the Supreme Court Justice S.H. Kapadia\'s interest in a matter relating to Sterlite Industries, allegedly implying judicial impropriety in Justice Kapadia\'s behavior. Salve, who acted as amicus curiae on the matter, felt that such careless comments by a member of the Bar was \"regrettable\", and requested permission to file a petition for contempt against Bhushan. However, the matter was subsequently clarified in a letter to the magazine by Senior Counsel U.U. Lalit, one of the counsels in the case, who made it plain that Justice Kapadia had made a full disclosure before starting proceedings on the matter, and asked if any of the parties had an objection to his adjudicating on the matter. When none of the parties raised an objection, Justice Kapadia continued to preside over the proceedings.
Prashant Bhushan’s December 2009 affidavit
Outlook India has put up, Prashant Bhushan’s (pictured right) affidavit which has been emphasized in the affidavit filed by his father, Shanti Bhushan. Prashant Bhushan said,
“In my view, out of the last 16 to 17 Chief Justices, half have been corrupt. I can’t prove this, though we had evidence against Punchhi, Anand, and Sabharwal on the basis of which we sought their impeachment”. This could have been better phrased, but, by the word corrupt, I meant, “of doubtful integrity”.
The affidavit also lists out other reasons of Prashant Bhushan including the contradiction in Justice Kapadia’s disclosure (Para 14) and how the amicus curiae, Harish Salve has repeatedly misused his position and has highlighted several cases of professional misconduct (Para 19, 20, 21).
Speaking to Bar & Bench, Prashant Bhushan said, “I am also filing an affidavit and would like to convey my views on this issue after my affidavit is filed”.
Shanti Bhushan became famous after arguing the election petition that set aside the election of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi which led to the imposition of Emergency.
Speaking to the Times of India and terming 8 among the list as \"definitely corrupt\", Bhushan put their names in a sealed cover and submitted it to the Supreme Court and virtually dared it to open it and read out the contents. He said, of the 16 on his list, \"6 were definitely honest and about the remaining 2, a definite opinion cannot be expressed whether they were honest or corrupt\".
Shanti Bhushan has impleaded himself in this petition. In his application he said, \"The applicant will consider it a great honour to spend time in jail for making an effort to get for the people of India an honest and clean judiciary\".
Prashant Bhushan’s defence: Ram Jethmalani
Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani has been leading the defense for the Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan. During the last hearing, Ram Jethmalani argued that the power vested in the High Courts and the Supreme Court under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, was a regulatory measure imposing a fetter on a citizen\'s fundamental right to freedom of speech and would have to be invoked and exercised with utmost caution so as not to infringe upon such fundamental right. Any deviation from the prescribed Rules should not be accepted or condoned lightly and must be deemed to be fatal to the proceedings taken to initiate action for contempt.
Shanti Bhushan is representing the editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal. Harish Salve, the amicus curiae in this case is being assisted by Meenakshi Grover.