‘Don’t play with fire…’ says SC on “bench fixing” in harassment case against CJI

‘Don’t play with fire…’ We want to send a message to people of the country, the rich and powerful that they cannot control or run this court,” said Justice Arun Mishra, who heads the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court. The bench is hearing claims about a larger conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

The observation was directed at people, who a lawyer claimed, were also involved in influencing the decision to refer a case to a particular judge, or as the court put it, “bench fixing”.

On Thursday, the bench delivered a sharp warning to people who were attempting to use money or political power to manipulate the judicial system.

As the lawyer detailed his allegations in a secret affidavit, the Supreme Court judges said there was “a systematic attack or game to run the court”.

The Supreme Court had set up the three-judge bench led by Justice Mishra last week to take up an affidavit filed by a lawyer Utsav Bains who had alleged a conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case.

 Is this a game of grudge?

Lawyer Utsav Bains’ affidavit filed before the bench that also comprises justices Rohintan Fali Nariman and Deepak Gupta had also referred to some sacked staffers of the top court who had ganged up to implicate the Chief Justice of India in a false charge.

Two of them had been sacked by Chief Justice Gogoi for changing a court order in a recent case and a police case filed against them. The judges have said this wasn’t the first time where court staffers were found to have crossed the line. But this was the first where strong action was taken against them.

The observation is seen in the context of the sexual harassment case filed by a former court staffer against Chief Justice Gogoi. The country’s top judge had last week held a special hearing where he had described it as an attempt to deactivate the office of the CJI.

At yesterday’s hearing, the court had underlined its resolve to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. “We will enquire, enquire and enquire till we get to the root of the issue,” the bench had said. Hours earlier, it had “requested” chiefs of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police to take over all material on the charge about a conspiracy against the Chief Justice. Further, the bench will meet next on Friday.



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