The Supreme Court is in the eye of a tumultuous storm involving none other than the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
It all started after a woman, a former assistant at the CJI’s home office and dating back to October, sent a sworn affidavit narrating incidents of alleged sexual advancements by the CJI and her rebuttal. (The affidavit was sent to 22 judges of the apex court).
Justice Gogoi had said that ‘he wound not stoop low even to deny’ the allegation. The CJI constituted an urgent hearing on April 20. The CJI said during the 30-minute hearing that some ‘bigger force’ was acting to ‘deactivate’ the office of the CJI. The CJI also said the woman had two FIRs were pending against her.
On Wednesday, the court said it would ‘enquire, enquire and enquire’ till it got to the root of the matter. The court said it was too be found out if the allegations were part of a ‘larger conspiracy’ hatched by a gang of disgruntled employees, corporate figures, and fixers.’
A young lawyer by name Utsan Singh Bains submitted before a special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra affidavits and evidence in sealed covers stating that he was enticed with money to frame the CJI.
The Hindu reported that the Bains was in the court and said he had crucial evidence to show that a lobby was at work to bring ‘disrepute’ to the CJI.
A three-judge in-house panel is also looking into the matter simultaneously. The bench but clarified that the proceedings in the Bains case would not ‘supersede’ the inquiry by the judges panel. Earlier, SC judge Indira Jaising had stated that the judicial proceedings could not go in tandem with the judges’ panel inquiry. The bench said: “The two enquiries will not prejudice each other. The judges committee is also not empowered to look into a larger conspiracy,” Justice Mishra assured.
Justice Rohinton Nariman, also part of the bench said: “We are not hearing anything on what happened on Saturday (April 20) or allegations [by the woman]. We are looking into only his [Bains] affidavit.”
The bench had directed the Delhi police commissioner and the directors of the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau to meet the judges in their chamber at half past noon. The bench had sought a confidential meeting. Justice Arun Mishra said the officials had been summoned as the procedure was ‘not just an inquiry’ and it was ‘something more.’ “This will be kept a secret. We do not want the evidence to be destroyed,” he added.
Advocate Bains stated in his affidavit that a man had offered him ₹1.5 lakh to file the false case. The Hindu said the contents of the affidavit, if true, were ‘really disturbing.’
Justice Gogoi had earlier stated that “nobody can catch me on money. People have to find something and they have found this.” Gogoi assumed office as CJI on October 3 and will retire on November 17. Justice Gogoi and three senior most judges of the SC had on January 12, 2018, come out in the open against the then CJI Deepak Misra’s ‘wrongful manner’ of case allocation.
The SC, in this case, has not issued any gag order on the media. Justice Arun Mishra said, “ …leaving it to the media to show restraint, act responsibly as is expected from them and accordingly decide what should or should not be published.”