Medical college scam: Supreme Court no to SIT, chides petitioners

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal’s petition seeking a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team (SIT) in the medical colleges scam. In doing so, the bench also terming attempts by the petitioner and her lawyer to secure orders from another bench even as the same matter was pending with another bench as an instance of forum shopping.

A bench comprising Justices RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar called the attempts made by Jaiswal and that that of the lawyers from the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) as “forum-shopping, contemptuous, unethical, derogatory” but stopped short of initiating contempt of court proceedings against them, in the interest and “welfare of the great institution.”

“Let us unite and work for the welfare of the great institution,” the Bench observed. “Unnecessary doubt was raised about the integrity of this great institution,” Justice Mishra said reading out from the judgment.

“Unnecessarily, the Institution has been brought to be scandalized for no good cause, it said.

“The petition and entire conduct aims at bringing disrepute to this Court without any rhyme or reason,” it said.

Speaking on the conduct of the petitioners and the crisis triggered by their petition, the bench held that filing the petition without due diligence and fact check amounted to events that were derogatory and contemptuous. However, the court erred on the side of caution and favoured bringing a quietus to the issue, saying goodwill should prevail.

Calling the conduct of the petitioners as unethical, the bench also suggested that calling for the recusal of Justice AM Khanwilkar – who was also on the bench that deliberated on the issue of the medical college scam, amounted to forum shopping.

In its judgment, the bench held that the decision of the Constitution Bench on November 10 was binding and that only the Chief Justice of India had the authority to constitute benches in the Supreme Court.

However, the 38-page judgment hoped to bring and an end to the drama that began when CJAR first mentioned their petition before Justice Jasti Chelameswar or “Court number 2,” as it was referred to.

“We still expect and hope the matter will stop at this,” Justice Mishra spoke for the bench, while dismissing Jaiswal’s petition.

“Let the good sense prevail over the legal fraternity and amends be made as lot of uncalled for damage has been made to the great Institution in which public reposes their faith. We deprecate the conduct of forum hunting that too involving senior lawyer of this Court. Such conduct tantamount wholly unethical, unwarranted and nothing but forum hunting, as discussed by this Court in the case of Cipla (supra),” the judgement – unanimous in its decision since there is no author, read.

On Monday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday queried whether advocate Prashant Bhushan’s act of filing duplicate petitions on the same issue was tantamount to forum shopping.

Observing that his actions had scandalised the court, the bench comprising Justices RK Agarwal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar had reserved its judgement on the maintainability of the petition that sought a court-monitored investigation into the medical colleges scam where the accused had allegedly brandished names of some members of the higher judiciary to give out the impression that favourable order could be procured – for a cost.

Last week, Bhushan’s Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms and senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal had filed identical petitions on two consecutive days causing an uproar in the apex court. During their arguments, both petitions categorically sought the recusal of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra who had deliberated on matters where Prasad Education Trust – one of the petitioners is also an accused in the medical scam case which the CBI is probing.

Appearing in his personal capacity, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal observed that the court was facing a crisis that was brought about by the petitions. “There is a deep wedge between the bar and the judiciary. Here is a crisis that of confidence (in court) itself,” he said.

“This petition wants to drive the investigation in a particular direction and particular decision,” he added. Submitting that American courts have condemned such actions, the top law officer added, “Judges are a very vulnerable class of people. The buck stops with Quddusi,” he added referring to the former Odisha High COurt judge who was arrested by the CBI for his role in the case.

The bench says

  • Let us unite and work for the welfare of the great institution
  • Unnecessarily, the Institution has been scandalised for no good cause
  • Unnecessary doubt was raised about the integrity of this great institution
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