Unprecedented drama in Supreme Court as Prashant Bhushan storms out of hearing

Supreme Court

The said petition was being heard by a bench headed by the present Chief Justice of India.

It may be recalled that on October 12, a Division Bench of Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Navin Sinha, had rejected an intervention petition filed by the Assam Pradesh Congress party challenging the Gauhati High Court order rejecting the validity of the Panchayat certificate issued as proof of citizenship for the objective of the updating of NRC.

Justice Arun Mishra reacted: "Is that not a bad reflection on us that only five senior judges should hear the matter". 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.

"., There can not be any direction to the Chief Justice of India as to who shall be sitting on the Bench or who shall take up the matter as that touches the composition of the Bench".

After a 90-minute hearing, the bench cited its 1998 judgement that held that the Chief Justice of a High Court was the master of roll and said that same applied to the top court, adding that there can be no doubt that the CJI is the first amongst the equals, and definitely exercises certain administrative powers.

In its order, the bench reiterated the sole authority of the Chief Justice as the master of the judges roster, which means he alone had the right to decide on the forum of a bench. The investigating agency said the group had colluded to bribe judges.

The hearing in the jampacked courtroom saw allegations flying thick and fast with Bhushan even raising his pitch while asking the CJI to recuse himself from hearing the matter as his name has allegedly figured in the CBI's FIR.

On Thursday, a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar heard a petiton moved by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, which sought an independent Special Investigation Team monitored by the court to investigate the alleged scam.

At the heart of the controversy that is roiling the country's top court, and forcing judges and lawyers to take sides, is a case filed by the Prasad Education Trust seeking relief from a government order barring it from admitting students to its medical college in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

It begs the question as to why the note took two days to get to Justice Chelameswar's court?

On Thursday, a similar petition filed by Kamini Jaiswal was brought before him again, and after expressing his concern over the seriousness of the issue, Justice Chelameswar listed it for hearing by a Constitution Bench.

Bhushan left the court in a huff midway during the hearing, alleging that he was not being allowed to speak while the court has heard "all and sundry". Given the seriousness of the matter, the judge made a decision to take up the petition in the afternoon.

Post FIR raids more than Rs 2 crore was recovered and CBI made arrests including that of Justice Qudussi.

The names of the college's trustees B P Yadav and Palash Yadav is also there in the FIR lodged by the CBI.

Disposing the petition by lawyer R.P. Luthra, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Amitava Roy recalled the October 27 order by a two-Judge bench relating to delay in the finalisation of the memorandum of procedure.

CJAR's petition claims that the government could use the investigations to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

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