As a debate on conspiracy allegations against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi rages on, more and more voices have come forth on Friday to question whether or not there is an attempt to besmirch the credibility of the top court ahead of crucial judgements and cases.
Speaking on the case, Legal Legend Soli Sorabjee on Friday said, “It's a very sorry state of affairs where allegations are made against the CJI. I feel very sorry about it”.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, speaking to Republic TV, said “There is an enquiry going on against the allegation separately against the chief justice, that's an in-house enquiry and that is completely independent from this and the two are not connected with each other at all”.
Senior Advocate KTS Tulsi said, “ This has put the entire reputation of the court at stake, as far as conspiracy theories are concerned, it has to be looked at. Let the truth come out”.
Following a Supreme Court bench on Thursday hearing lawyer Utsav Bains' stunning claim that there is a "larger conspiracy" at play to frame Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, the top court has initiated a probe into the matter. Taking cognisance of the 'conspiracy' angle alleged by Bains, who also submitted 'evidence' in a sealed envelope, the three-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta has appointed Justice (Retd) AK Patnaik to inquire into the claims.
On hearing the allegations of conspiracy to target the CJI, Justice Mishra who was part of the SC Bench that heard Bains’ claims reportedly noted “That is a serious issue before us. We are going to inquire and inquire into it. The supreme court will no survive otherwise. Not just us” . Following this, former SC Judge - Retd Justice AK Patnaik - was appointed to investigate the matter.
The Supreme Court order dated 25th April 2019 also requested the CBI, IB and Delhi Police to cooperate with the judges for the purpose of the investigation.
SC Order on 25 April, 2019: 10. As we are appointing Hon’ble Sh. Justice A. K. Patnaik (Retd.), we request the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to cooperate with the Hon’ble Judge as and when their services are required at any point of time for the purpose of investigation of the matter, especially required by the Hon’ble Judge. We leave it to the Hon’ble Judge to take the assistance of whosoever else His Lordship desires.
In his affidavit, lawyer Utsav Bains claimed that he was offered Rs 50 lakh to help "frame the CJI in the sexual harassment case".
Utsav Bains Affidavit dated: 22 April, 2019:
13. That, when the Deponent outright refused the said bribe of Rs 50 lakh offered by the said Ajay to frame the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, the said Ajay then increased the sum to Rs 1.5 crore to the Deponent following which the Deponent asked him to immediately leave his office.
Bains has also said that he was approached by an alleged 'fixer' who is an aide of Dawood Ibrahim with the offer of a bribe. The lawyer is said to have submitted ‘specific information’ on how the conspiracy was planned by ‘disgruntled employees’ of the Supreme Court.Details of those who are involved in the alleged plot against the CJI have also been specified in the sealed document.
Utsav Bains Affidavit dated: 22 April, 2019: 29.That, the Deponent upon learning about the said links of the said fixer Romesh Sharma with Naresh Goyal and Dawood Ibrahim and the above mentioned Corporate Figure and understanding the larger conspiracy to frame the Hon’ble CJI, immediately rushed to the residence of the Chief Justice of India, and reached outside the Hon’ble CJI’s residence around 7 pm on 19th April, 2019. The Deponent did not know any other avenue of approaching the Hon’ble CJI nor who else to approach considering the sensitivity of the matter.
The alleged plot, as claimed by Bains, constitutes pressure tactics by some people to fix verdicts of the Supreme Court and malign the office of the nation's top judge.
In his filed affidavit claiming a plot to oust the CJI by “certain ‘Fixers’, Bains says that they are those “who claim to be engaged in illegally managing Judgements in exchange for cash” because he has “taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers”.
Insinuating a larger conspiracy at play, Bains claimed that a fixer “ running a ‘Cash for Judgement’ racket in cahoots with businessmen and politicians and had exercised considerable influence for years, which ultimately was brought to an end by the present Chief Justice of India”.
Bains had been summoned by the apex court after he wrote a long and detailed Facebook post regarding his claims in which he said that “a lobby of judges who is planning this larger conspiracy” will try to ‘harm him (the Chief Justice of India) professionally”. To buttress his claims, Bains had said that he would put his statement on an affidavit and would not appear in any matter presided over by the CJI. The Supreme Court had said on Wednesday that it will go to the root of the alleged conspiracy and claims.
The allegations of conspiracy come right ahead of crucial movement on the Ayodhya case which is nearing the end of mediation, the Rafale review case, the Rahul Gandhi contempt case and the Assam NRC case.
While the top court has initiated an enquiry into the allegations of a larger conspiracy being hatched, the Supreme Court has constituted an inhouse panel of of sitting judges to enquire into the allegations of sexual assault as was alleged against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. Justices Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee are part of this in-house panel.