“Since the allegations involve the chief justice and another sitting judge of the Supreme Court, to protect the independence of judiciary, it should not be investigated by any investigative body controlled by the government,” she says.
New Delhi: Dangwimsai Pul, first wife of the late chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Kalikho Pul, submitted an application to Vice President Hamid Ansari on February 28 citing the K. Veeraswami judgment of the Supreme Court to seek permission from him to allow first information reports (FIRs) against senior judges of the apex court named by her husband in his suicide note.
In the 1991 judgment, the Chief Justice of India’s permission is mandatory even for the filing of an FIR against a judge of a high court or the Supreme Court accused of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The judgment further says that if the allegations are against the CJI, the permission required would be of the next seniormost judge.
Alternatively, the matter can be forwarded to the president, who will consult the senior-most judges and form a bench to look into the matter. But if the president is also the subject of any probe, then the matter should be placed before the vice president.
In her application, submitted to the deputy secretary at Ansari’s office in his absence, Dangwimsai Pul requested the vice president to consult the seniormost judges of the Supreme Court as per the Veeraswami judgment and “name an appropriate SIT (special investigation team) which can credibly investigate the allegations” mentioned in Kalikho Pul’s 60-page suicide note titled “Mere Vichar” (My Thoughts), dated August 8, 2016.
The contents of the suicide note were first made public by The Wire on February 8, 2017, with some of the names of persons against whom Pul had made allegations redacted. An unexpurgated version of the note was subsequently released by Dangwimsai Pul at a press conference in Delhi.
Dangwimsai Pul’s application said the note “briefly details his life history and thereafter shows his anguish about the corrupt state of affairs in politics and in judiciary in the country. He details several allegations of corruption against politicians and judges from his personal knowledge.”
Underlining the reason behind the application, she wrote, “In particular, the note contains allegations of corruption against the sitting chief justice of India and the next judge in superiority in the supreme court and also against the present president of India.”
“Given the gravity of the allegations contained in the note”, she urged, “The matter needs to be investigated by a credible investigation team.” However, she felt, “Since it involves the chief justice and another sitting judge of the Supreme Court, to protect the independence of judiciary, it should not be investigated by any investigative body controlled by the government.”
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who accompanied Dangwimsai along with Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, activist Harsh Mander and others to the vice president’s office on Tuesday evening as part of Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR-India), told The Wire, “We submitted the letter to the vice president’ joint secretary, Ashok Dewan, as we were told that he was unwell.”
On February 17, Dangwimsai wrote a letter to Chief Justice J.S. Khehar requesting him to place the matter of Pul’s allegations before the appropriate judge in accordance with the Veeraswami judgment. The CJI responded by turning the application into a writ petition (criminal) and slated it for hearing by a two-member bench of the apex court on February 23. However, Dangwimsai, through her counsel Dushyant Dave, withdrew her application from the bench as the process being followed was not in compliance with the Veeraswami judgment. She then decided to go to the vice president’s office to seek permission to file FIRs against senior members of judiciary named in the note.
Note: The letter was handed over to the vice president’s joint secretary, Ashok Dewan, and not his deputy secretary as was initially reported.