New Delhi: Late former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Kalikho Pul’s wife Dangwimsai Pul wrote a letter on April 3 to three senior judges of the Supreme Court, seeking their permission to lodge an FIR to investigate the allegations contained in the suicide note of her husband. She also sought to have the matter “credibly investigated by an SIT (special investigation team)”.
Kalikho hanged himself in the chief minister’s bungalow on August 9, 2016, leaving behind ten copies of a 60-page, typed suicide note in Hindi, titled ‘Mere Vichar’, where he named a number of top ministers and others who presently hold senior constitutional posts, accusing them of impropriety. The inquest report by the Itanagar police after Kalikho’s suicide mentioned that the additional district magistrate had seized such documents from the room where he hanged himself.
Dangwimgsai’s letter, addressed to Justices J. Chelamsewar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B. Lokur – three senior-most judges of the apex court after Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Deepak Misra – urged that the note be taken seriously.
“Every page of this suicide note was signed and initialed by him. This note contains a detailed narration of facts regarding the sordid state of affairs in the polity and the judiciary, most of which were from his personal knowledge. The note contains serious allegations of corruption in high places in the polity as well as in highest places in the judiciary and that led him to believe that there was no hope for the country. The note makes it apparent that he was particularly distressed by the corruption in the highest judiciary,” her letter says.
Stating that a suicide note “is treated like a dying declaration and is taken as very serious evidence especially if the writer of the note has also implicated himself in some of the acts,” she sought their intervention as “the note mentions several cases of bribery (and attempted bribery) of top ministers and judges, most of which were to his personal knowledge.”
“In particular, he has mentioned an instance of him personally having gone and paid money to the then Finance Minister of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, who happens to be the President of India at this time. There are allegations of bribery or attempted bribery against two former Chief Justices, the current Chief Justice of India and the second senior most judge in the Supreme Court,” she has said.
Citing the apex court’s judgement in the 1991 case Veeraswami versus Union of India, her letter said, “These allegations cast a long shadow on the integrity of our political institutions and particularly the integrity of the highest judiciary. These allegations had caused great despair not only to my late husband but also to the entire country. It is imperative, therefore, that these allegations contained in this note are credibly and thoroughly investigated by an independent investigating authority.”
As per the Veeraswami judgement, “No FIR could be registered against a judge nor an investigation be undertaken by any investigative agency of the country without the prior sanction of the Chief Justice of India.” She wrote, “If the allegations are against the Chief Justice, then the President would consult such other judges, which obviously going by the spirit of the judgement, would mean the next senior most judge/judges.”
Dangwimsai also wrote a letter on February 17, 2017, urging the chief justice to send her request to appropriate judges to grant sanction for an investigation into the matter. Since he converted the letter into a petition and listed it for hearing by a two-judge bench on February 23, 2017, her counsel Dushyant Dave withdrew the petition stating that “the matter should have been dealt with on the administrative side by sending it to the next senior judges.”
On February 28, she wrote a letter to the vice president urging him to consult other senior judges of the Supreme Court and grant permission to register an FIR based on the allegations.
“However, despite the lapse of almost a month, there is no response from the Vice President. It does not appear that he has taken any action on my request,” she wrote in the letter to the judges.
“This has led to an unfortunate impasse in which the Chief Justice is disqualified from taking the decision. So is the first puisne judge and the President as well, since all their names are involved.” With “the Vice-President (is) refusing to act,” she said, “I am writing this letter to the three senior-most judges of the apex court (other than the ones who are named in the suicide note) requesting you to kindly take an administrative decision of granting sanction of lodging an FIR and having this matter credibly investigated by an SIT (special investigation team).”
After an intense power struggle in the state, Kalikho became the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh between February 19 and July 13, 2016. He, however, had to step down from his post due to a Supreme Court order.
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 Kalikho had made allegations redacted. An unexpurgated version of the note was subsequently released by Dangwimsai at a press conference in Delhi.
On April 1, the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking contempt action against Dangwimsai and her counsel Dave, besides another senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan who appeared with her in the press meet in New Delhi and also accompanied her to the vice president’s office. Filed by advocate Manohar Lal, the petition alleged that the two senior lawyers forged the document with regard to Kalikho’s suicide and therefore contempt action should be initiated against them.