As the debate on conspiracy allegations against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi mounts, more voices have come forward on Friday to raise questions on whether or not there is an attempt to besmirch the credibility of the top court ahead of crucial judgements and cases.
Weighing in on the charge as made by lawyer Utsav Bains via an affidavit and a sealed envelope of evidence, reputed lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani emphasised that the inquiry that has been ordered by the Supreme Court under retired Justice AK Patnaik is entirely independent from the 'in-house inquiry' into the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI from which the 'conspiracy' charge arose.
Noting that the two are disassociated, he said, "There is an inquiry going on against the allegation separately against the Chief Justice, that's an in-house inquiry and that is completely independent from this and the two are not connected with each other at all."
Taking cognisance of the 'conspiracy' angle brought to light by the advocate who also submitted 'evidence' in a sealed envelope, a three-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta has appointed Justice (Retd) AK Patnaik to inquire into what Bains has claimed.
In his affidavit, lawyer Utsav Bains has claimed that he was offered Rs 50 lakh to help "frame the CJI in the sexual harassment case".
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 submitted ‘specific information’ on how the conspiracy was designed 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, and the plot, as claimed by Bains, allegedly encompasses the pressure tactics by some people to fix verdicts of the Supreme Court and malign the office of the nation's top judge.
Bains had been summoned by the Apex Court after he wrote a long and comprehensive 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 also 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 sensational claims
As the matter currently stands, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief and CBI Director have also been directed to cooperate with Justice AK Patnaik, following which the retired judge has been asked to submit the report to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had on Saturday dismissed the allegations levelled against him during the course of the unprecedented hearing titled as a matter of "great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary" that was held after a sworn affidavit containing the allegations were sent to the residences of 22 apex court judges became public.