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CJI forms new Constitution bench to hear bribery case against judges

CJI forms new Constitution bench to hear bribery case against judges

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday adjourned till November 15 further hearing on a PIL petition seeking a direction to the Union government to expedite the appointment of judges to the High Court.

Justice Chelameswar, who heard one of the petitions yesterday and ordered that it be heard by a five-judge constitution bench comprising the first five judges, did not specify if the Chief Justice would be part of it.

Extending the same principle, the bench said Chief Justice of India is the "Master of Rolls" in the top court and any order passed by any bench assigning any matter to itself or directing the composition of benches won't be binding.

After senior advocate Dushyant Dave mentioned the case for an urgent hearing in court number 2, Justice Chelameswar, calling it a serious issue, referred it for hearing at 12:45 PM.

In September, the CBI had arrested a retired Odisha High Court judge, IM Quddusi accusing him of conspiring to bribe senior High Court and Supreme Court judges for favorable decision in a case related to Prasad Education Trust.

Taking exception to the manner the second petition was filed and entertained by the bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, the bench of Justice Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked advocate Prashant Bhushan as to what was the urgency. No eligibility criteria for the appointment of judges to the apex court are laid down till date, and in absence of the same, the elements of nepotism, favoritism and arbitrariness can not be ruled out.

Members of the Supreme Court Bar Association led by its president RS Suri supported the Chief Justice and sought institution of contempt proceedings against Bhushan, who according to them had made frivolous charges against not just the CJI but also the Supreme court.

The commission would be headed by Justice P Venkatrama Reddi, retired Supreme Court court.

The happenings in the court on Thursday, too, were intriguing.

The activist advocate was also rebuked by Justice Arun Mishra, who observed that FIR can not be lodged against sitting judicial officer of lower courts, judges of the higher judiciary, the Vice President of India or the President of India because they have immunity. The two were accused of assuring the college representative of getting favourable orders from the top court. The CBI said Rs 2 crores was recovered during the raids.

What happened in the court on Wednesday is also interesting.

Perturbed by yesterday's order, the CJI, without taking names of the concerned judges, said there were hundreds of matters listed in the court daily and if the orders were passed like this, then the court can not function.

The bench said the Chief Justice takes a call on which bench a matter is to be listed.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition seeking probe into a medical admission scam allegedly involving a former judge of the Orissa High Court.

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear urgently a plea regarding alleged bribes being taken in the name of judges.

The CJI retorted by asking Bhushan, who was accompanied by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, one of the petitioners, to read the contents of the FIR and warned against losing his temper.

"There cannot be a command or an order directing the CJI to constitute a bench of specific strength", the bench said while making it clear that neither a two-judge, nor a three- judge bench can direct the CJI to constitute a specific bench.


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