The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a former apex court judge, Justice A K Patnaik, to inquire into a lawyer alleging ‘conspiracy’ against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
The top court also asked directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police to help in the probe.
The top court said Justice Patnaik would not go into the issue of sexual harassment charges against the CJI, which is being probed by an in-house committee of three judges.
Earlier in the day, lawyer Utsav Singh Bains, who has claimed that he was lured with money to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case, handed an additional affidavit to the Supreme Court.
The affidavit was handed to the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra, comprising justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta.
In a first affidavit on Wednesday, Bains had claimed there was a larger conspiracy by “fixers” to frame the CJI.
On Thursday morning, the top court observed: “We are anguished with the way this institution is being treated… we will not survive if this will happen.”
The top court said there was a “systematic attack and systematic game to malign this institution”.
“Do rich and powerful people in the country think they can remote control Supreme Court,” the court asked.
It said four to five per cent lawyers were bringing a “bad name to this great institution”.
On a stronger note, the court said the day has come when “we rise and tell country’s rich and powerful that they can’t do it”. “The rich and powerful of this country are playing with fire and this must stop,” the apex court said on the lawyer’s claim of conspiracy against CJI.
Calling the charges “highly sensitive”, the court on Wednesday had met the chiefs of CBI, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police. The entire episode is “very disturbing” as it concerns the independence of the judiciary, the Bench observed.
The three-judge special bench said if fixers continue to work and manipulate the judiciary as claimed, neither this institution not any of them would survive.
The court had also made it clear that the process of verifying the authenticity of Bains’ claims would in no way hinder the in-house probe being conducted by a three-judge bench comprising justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee.
Bains’ first affidavit had said “he was informed by reliable sources that certain fixers, who claim to be engaged in illegally managing judgements in exchange for cash are behind this plot as the Honourable CJI has taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers”.
The woman, who has brought the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI, is a 35-year-old dismissed Supreme Court staff. She expressed “fear and apprehensions” on Wednesday before the in-house committee, saying her character had been damaged even before the inquiry began.