Supreme Court disposes petition on framing of MoP for judges' appointments

Making it clear that they were not underestimating the seriousness of the matter, the court in its order said that let the appropriate order be passed to tag the petition by the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms with the one by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, which was referred to a five-judge constitution bench on Thursday by the bench of Justice Chelameswar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer.

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.

"CBI has raided and the case is lodged. This despite having a direct conflict of interest", Prashant Bhushan tweeted, after the CJI upturned Justice Chelameswar's order.

The CJI told the petitioner that after the Constitution bench had upheld the collegium system of appointments and quashed the National Judcial Appointments Commission law, there was no need to go into these issues.

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.

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The Chief Justice constituted a special five-judge bench which heard the case the same afternoon and, setting aside the order of Justice Chelameswar, said that only the Chief Justice could decide on the constitution of benches.

In its order, the Bench said, "The FIR contained certain allegations which are disturbing". CJI presided over a hand picked bench to override yesterday's order referring this case to top 5 judges.

"You are doubting the integrity of everybody in the system", Justice Mishra, who is not among the top five senior judges, said. The investigating agency said the group had colluded to bribe judges.

The order passed on Wednesday is contrary to one passed on October 27 by a two-judge bench which said "the issue can not linger on for an indefinite period".

The Supreme Court today wondered how could two of its judges usurp the power of the Chief Justice of India to set up a bench, while some lawyers alleged that an NGO and an advocate were indulging in "forum shopping". It also included criticism of that order, an exchange between the chief justice and lawyer Prashant Bhushan - with the latter asking the former to recuse himself from the case and the former refusing to do so, and a demand by a group of lawyers for a contempt petition against Bhushan for casting aspersions on the Chief Justice. "Strong action needs to be taken against any such attempt", SCBA members said while requesting the bench to initiate contempt proceedings in the matter.

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Justice Arun Mishra referred to Bhushan's argument that the CJI should recuse from hearing the case and said, "Mr Bhushan, your comment was not appropriate".

Pleading ignorance about the second petition, Bhushan said that since the allegations were in respect of the matter heard by the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra, he should not have exercised his administrative and judicial authority.

Friday's order came a day after the two-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar, the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice, ordered the setting up of a five-judge constitution bench to hear on Monday a corruption case involving former Orissa High Court judge, I.M. Quddusi.

"Have you ever seen a two-judge bench directing that a bench will be constituted like this?"

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