The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed Justice AK Patnaik, fromer judge of the apex court, to conduct an inquiry into the claims of lawyer that there is a larger conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogi on allegations of sexual harassment by fixers and court staff.
The Supreme Court order also said the CBI, IB and the Delhi Police will assist Justice Patnaik in the probe.
The apex court also said that Justice Patnaik will not go into the issue of sexual harassment allegations against the CJI Ranjan Gogoi and said the outcome of the inquiry by him will not affect in-house inquiry committee dealing with the complaint against CJI Gogoi.
The court said that on the completion of the inquiry, Justice (Retd) Patnaik will file a report in a sealed cover before the court after which the matter will be heard again.
In the order, a special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said: "Considering the factual gamut and the affidavits filed by advocate Utsav Singh Bains, we are appointing Justice A K Patnaik, retired judge of this court, to hold the inquiry into the allegations levelled in the affidavit filed by Bains."
The bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta, clarified that he "would not deal with the allegations of misbehaviour by the CJI".
It also said that the "outcome of the inquiry and its findings" would not affect the in-house inquiry which has been ordered.
The bench further said: "Directors of CBI and IB and Delhi Police Commissioner would render cooperation to Justice (Retd) Patnaik as and when required during his inquiry."
The bench ordered that the affidavit filed by advocate Bains be transferred to Justice (Retd) Patnaik in a sealed cover.
While dictating the order, the bench at the outset said, "We have decided that no privilege can be claimed on certain communications the advocate is claiming and he has to disclose the information as and when required."
The Supreme Court earlier on Thursday expressed anguish over the "systematic attack" on the judiciary and said time has come to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they are "playing with fire".
The apex court made this observation while hearing claims made by an advocate that there was a larger conspiracy to frame the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, while speaking to reporters after the order, said the Chief Justice cannot be the master of the roster anymore and that his administrative and judicial work should be suspended till the sexual harassment allegations against him are looked into.
While hearing the case earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed anguish over the "systematic attack" on the judiciary and said time has come to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they are "playing with fire".
The apex court also said Thursday that so many things are going around in the judiciary and when somebody tries to fix it, the person is
The bench had made it clear that it would see whether the claims of advocate Utsav Singh Bains, who has alleged a larger conspiracy to frame the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment and attempts of fixing benches in the top court, are true or not.
Utsav Bains, a lawyer, had on Saturday evening claimed in a Facebook post that “just a few days back” he was offered a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore to frame the Chief Justice in a sexual harassment case.
The lawyer had filed a sworn affidavit on Monday alleging that a sexual harassment charge levelled by a former Supreme Court staffer is motivated. There is a “conspiracy against the Chief Justice to force him to resign and threaten every judge of the Supreme Court”, Bains said in an affidavit.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had served notice to Bains and told him to clarify his claim that he knew the chain of events and would submit names of those involved in a sealed cover.
Bains on Wednesday submitted proof to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover.
At the outset, Bains again filed an additional affidavit on Thursday in a sealed cover in the court in support of his claims.
Bains had filed an affidavit following the unprecedented hearing on Saturday during which Justice Gogoi had said some "bigger force" was behind the sexual harassment allegations as they wanted to "deactivate" the CJI's office.
The hearing on April 20 in the case, titled as a matter of "great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary", was held after stories were published on some news portals about sexual harassment allegations levelled by a former employee of the apex court against the CJI.