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After writing to the Prime Minister and filing complaints with the CBI and the CVC, albeit unsuccessfully, Advocate Prashant Bhushan has now filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking the removal of retired Supreme Court judge Justice CK Prasad from the post of Chairperson of the Press Council of India (PCI). Bhushan has also sought for registration of FIR against Justice Prasad for criminal misconduct allegedly committed by him as a judge of the Supreme Court.
The allegations in the petition pertain to the matter involving Mistry Constructions wherein Justice Prasad had tagged the matter to a case which he was hearing and disposed of the matter in favour of Mistry Construction.
The petition, which has been filed through Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, states that,
“Justice Prasad’s former junior’s in-laws are the main owners of Mistry Constructions. The lawyer appearing for Mistry Constructions Mr. AK Srivastava shares his chamber (90, Lawyers Chambers, Supreme Court) with Mr. Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, the son of Justice Prasad. Thus Justice Prasad was aware of this case and had an interest in the matter.”
As per the petition,
“Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No. 7232/2013, titled Neera Saggi and Anr. v. Avinash Parshuram Naik and Anr. was before the Bench presided by Justice Prasad who had issued notice on 05.09.2013. When the aforesaid matter came up for further hearing on 20.01.2014 the Court passed following order: “list the following matter along with Civil Appeal No. 9454-3455 of 2013 on 29.01.2014”.
Later, it came to the notice of the Court that incorrect appeal numbers were recorded in its order. The Court, therefore, took up the criminal SLP though it was not listed and directed that it be listed with correct civil appeals.
Bhushan has submitted that when the matter, subsequently, came up for hearing,
“Justice Prasad, at the outset, accepted the submission of Shri C.U. Singh, Senior Advocate, that the Civil Appeal No, 9454-9455 of 2010 was not connected with the SLP (Crl.) 7232/2013 and passed an independent order in the SLP (Crl.) 7232/2013. However despite there being no connection, the Civil Appeal No. 9454-9455 of 2010 was taken up, and in the absence of any effective representation from CIDCO, a statutory body, the Civil Appeal disposed of by an order dictated in open Court, in presence of many lawyers sitting in the Court. Justice Prasad allowed the Writ Petitioner before the High Court to withdraw the Writ Petition apparently in view of the settlement between Mistry Constructions P. Ltd. and Makhija Developers. P. Ltd. …
The above order was passed despite the fact that the same settlement was earlier rejected by a 3-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India of the Supreme Court on 02.05.2013.”
Bhushan has alleged that,
“The above facts show that Justice Prasad abused his position as a Judge of Supreme Court in order to confer huge pecuniary advantage on a private party (Mistry Constructions) and thus committed criminal misconduct under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
On the above grounds, he has prayed for a direction to be issued to the SIT/CBI to register a Regular Case or FIR against Justice Prasad and a direction to the Central government to remove or initiate steps for the removal of Justice Prasad as the Chairperson of the PCI.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave had made allegations pertaining to this case earlier this year. Bhushan had, subsequently, written to the Prime Minister to cancel Justice Prasad’s appointment as the PCI Chairperson. He had then filed criminal complaints against Justice Prasad with the CBI and the CVC. The petition alleges that no action was taken despite his representations and complaints.
It is interesting to note that if this petition is admitted for hearing, this would be the second such case before the Supreme Court wherein it would be sitting in judgment over the conduct of a retired judge. A petition seeking inquiry against former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan is pending before the Supreme Court.
Image of Justice CK Prasad taken from here.