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CJI Gogoi cancels all constitution bench hearings amidst allegations

A fresh plea was also filed in court by a Punjab based lawyer Utsav Bains seeking to place his views before the bench dealing with the allegations.

, ET Bureau|
Apr 22, 2019, 07.22 PM IST
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Agencies
Ranjan-Gogoi
The CJI had on Saturday insisted that it was a larger conspiracy to target him in the run up to hearings in some crucial hearing.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday cancelled all Constitution bench hearings scheduled for later this week amidst allegations of harassment levelled against him by a former court staffer who was sacked earlier as several lawyers’ forums spoke up against the manner in which he had dealt with the issue himself on Saturday and demanded an independent probe into the allegations.

A fresh plea was also filed in court by a Punjab based lawyer Utsav Bains seeking to place his views before the bench dealing with the allegations. Bains has alleged a conspiracy to frame the CJI.

The allegations had surfaced late last week. The CJI was expected to sit in a five-judge combination to hear a host of constitutional matters of importance such as land acquisition and whether the Right to Information applies to his office etc. Now this bench will not sit and the regular bench led by him will sit instead and deal with his regular board.

Incidentally, former CJI Dipak Misra was sitting in a constitution bench when the next senior most judge J. Chelmeswar decided to deal with a case alleging financial improprieties mentioned before him. This led to a whole sequence of events which culminated in the Opposition Congress introducing an impeachment motion against the former CJI in the House.

The motion eventually did not take off, but dented the former CJI’s image badly. A short press release issued by a registrar said that Constitution benches will not sit this week. This effectively ensures that any fresh mentioning of any urgent case comes up only before the CJI.

Though the CJI had on Saturday clarified that he would not be passing any judicial orders in the case and the senior most judge available i.e. Justice Arun Mishra will pass any orders with Justices Sanjiv Khanna as the master of the roster he will continue to assign any fresh cases which come up against him. The court move was part of several other key developments in the day.

The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association expressed its deep reservations on the procedure adopted by the CJI in suo motu dealing with the allegations. It said that these allegations have to be dealt with as per procedure established under law and must be “applied in each and every case uniformly”.

“… the Supreme Court Advocates’ on Record Association strongly disapproves the manner in which the complaint was dealt with and seeks inquiry and action… and immediate appointment of a committee headed by the full court of the Supreme Court to impartially investigate and inquire into the allegations and give independent findings…,” it said.

Another Association which goes by the name Women in Criminal Law Association also demanded an inquiry into the allegations and demanded that the CJI not hold office till it was complete.

The CJI had on Saturday insisted that it was a larger conspiracy to target him in the run up to hearings in some crucial hearings and stated that he would sit in his chair for the rest of his seven months and adjudicate every case which came up for hearing before him without fear or favour.

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