Thursday, July 13, 2017

Apex court "fails" to inquire into allegations against top HC judge with RSS background: SC advocate Prashant Bhushan

Justice Hemant Gupta, Prashant Bhushan
By Our Representative
Top Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan has regretted that, despite his complaint to the chief justice of India on March 3, 2017, against the former acting chief justice of Patna High Court Justice Hemant Gupta on allegations of “money laundering, acquiring properties by illegal means, possessing disproportionate assets”, no action has been taken by the top Indian judiciary.
Bhushan, in a statement as convener of the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), says, instead, Justice Gupta “has been promoted as the regular Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court without any enquiry into the charges.”
Bhushan says, he has learnt that Government of India, too, was “seriously interested in the promotion of Justice Gupta who comes from an influential RSS background”, he adds, “The failure of the Chief Justice of India to constitute an in-house enquiry against Justice Gupta shows the futility of this in-house procedure”, about which a decision was taken way back in 1997.
Those who are attached with CJAR include former Justices PB Sawant and Justice H Suresh, veteran advocate Shanti Bhushan, well-known writer Arundhati Roy, senior advocate Mihir Desai, journalist Manoj Mitta, and several social workers and experts like Nikhil Dey, Annie Raja, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijayan MJ, Harish Narasappa, Koninika Ray, and Anjali Bharadwaj.
Accusing Justice Gupta of “seeking to influence” a officer of the Enforcement Directonrate (ED), Government of India, which was investigating the charges after submitting a “scathing” report, Bhushan says, the ED officer was asked “to come and meet him to resolve the matter”, yet “no such in-house enquiry appears to have been set up, despite a further reminder dated March 27, 2017 to the Chief Justice of India.”
Claiming that there is “considerable evidence” of the charges, including a “taped conversation between the Justice Gupta and the ED officer”, Bhushan recalls, a chief justices conference in 1997 “decided that an in-house procedure for investigating charges against sitting judges would be devised, in which the Chief Justice of India would constitute a committee of two Chief Justices of the High Court, and another High Court judge.”
The case shows, says Bhushan, that “often Chief Justices’ act on subjective considerations and on the basis of his own personal equations with the judge concerned”, adding, this underscoring “the need for putting in place a permanent full time commission, which is independent of the government and the judiciary, for investigating complaints against judges and taking action against erring judges.”
Pointing out that the need for such a commission has also been underlined recently by Justices Chelameshwar and Gogoi in their separate judgment in Justice Karnan’s case, Bhushan underlines, “Unfortunately, in the absence of such an independent mechanism, the only available resort is impeachment which is a political process.”
Insisting that impeachment should be “resorted to in some extreme cases”, Bhushan says, Justice Gupta’s “is a fit case for commencement of impeachment proceedings and we urge leaders of all political parties to come together to initiate this process to protect the integrity of the judiciary.”

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