Judges bribery scam: SC dismisses plea to form SIT
The SC rejected a plea filed by lawyer Kamini Jaiswal requesting a court-monitored SIT for investigating an alleged bribery racket involving judges. Its order said "we are not above the law but everything needs to be as per the law." It reprimanded lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his behavior in court but didn't initiate contempt proceedings against him. What is this case? Read on!
What is this case related to?
This case is related to the Medical Council of India (MCI), which oversees medical education. It approves medical institutions to function and admit students. However, if there are some flaws in the institution's infrastructure, it can deny approval. Subsequently, the colleges can approach the court.
How did the CBI nab the judges?
In September, CBI filed an FIR claiming that retired HC Judge Quddusi, with others, allegedly used his influence to help 'Prasad Education Trust'. The MCI had denied permission to one of the colleges (owned by the trust) to operate. A middleman assured that permission would be granted using these judges' influence. CBI said Rs. 2cr were recovered in the raids on the judges. Subsequently, Quddusi was arrested, but released on bail.
How did the case proceed in the SC?
The CBI didn't challenge the bail, but lawyers Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan approached SC to constitute a court-monitored SIT. On November 9, SC-bench of Justices J Chelameshwar and Abdul Nazeer referred the matter to a five-judge constitution bench. However, interestingly, on November 10, a CJI Dipak Misra-led SC-bench nullified that judgment claiming that only CJI can constitute "a bench of specific strength."
Why did the CJI and Prashant Bhushan come to blows?
The matter was heard by a CJI Misra-led bench. However, petitioner Bhushan refused to argue in the case, demanding that the bench should exclude Misra. Misra had earlier handled cases related to the MCI; Bhushan alleged that this could lead to conflict of interest. Drama unfolded in court as questions on petitioners approaching a particular judge for a favorable judgment (forum shopping) were raised.
What is the SC's current judgment?
The SC now pronounced that an FIR cannot be registered against an HC judge, an HC chief justice or an SC judge without consulting the CJI.