New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ordered former apex court judge A.K. Patnaik to head the inquiry into allegations of ‘conspiracy’ by ‘fixers’ against CJI Ranjan Gogoi, LiveLaw reported.
The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, R.F. Nariman and Deepak Gupta also said that chiefs of Central Bureau of Investigation, Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau will assist the probe.
Further, the court rejected the claim of privilege raised by advocate Utsav Bains, directing him to give all information regarding the issue to the inquiry panel.
Advocate Bains had on April 23 filed an affidavit alleging that the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi were a part of a larger conspiracy by ‘fixers and plotters’ to frame him.
The special bench is not considering the merits of the women’s complaint against the CJI Gogoi. Rather, it is looking into an affidavit filed by advocate Bains, which says that there is a “high-profile” conspiracy against Gogoi involving underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and a cabal of “fixers”.
The Wire earlier reported that Bains’s affidavit, which made several allegations against people who would appear to have no connection to the sexual harassment allegations, claimed that a certain “high-profile corporate figure” tried to get a favourable judgment from CJI Gogoi. When he failed, he decided to “frame the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in a false case of sexual harassment to pressurise him to resign” using a fixer named Romesh Sharma, who runs a “cash for judgments” business.
During court proceeding on Wednesday, Bains had said that he will file a new affidavit giving details of the involvement of the three “disgruntled employees” of the Supreme Court in the alleged plot against CJI Gogoi.
Bains had noted in his affidavit that he cannot share names as they are “privileged communications under Advocates Act” – the court took up this matter on Thursday morning. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said in the court that the claim of privileged was not applicable to communications between Bains and the alleged fixers/conspirators.
According to Bains, the A-G said, “someone came to him with 50 lakhs. He doesn’t have a client. So there is no application of Section 126 Indian Evidence Act.”
Advocate Indira Jaising, according to a LiveLaw report, intervened to say that the present proceedings to prejudice the in-house inquiry against CJI Gogoi.
A panel headed by Justice S.A. Bobde is conducting an in-house inquiry into the charges of sexual harassment against the chief justice. The woman who had made these allegations had on Wednesday raised concerns about this inquiry committee and suggested several measures to ensure a “fair and equal hearing”.
To Jaising’s apprehensions, the court responded saying that the present proceedings were regarding a “wider conspiracy” and will not have an impact on the in-house inquiry.
Further, the bench said it was anguished with the way the judiciary has been treated for the past 3-4 years. “The way this institution is treated in last few years we must say that we will not survive if this will happen,” the court said, adding: “There is a systematic attack, systematic game to malign this institution.”