CJAR Press Note on the SC hearing on Mrs. Pul’s letter to the CJI
CAMPAIGN FOR JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND REFORMS
6/6 basement Jangpura B, Delhi – 110014
Patrons: Justice P.B.Sawant, Justice H.Suresh, Shri Shanti Bhushan,, Prof. B.B.Pande,, Dr. Bhaskar Rao, Ms. Arundhati Roy, Shri Pradip Prabhu, Prof Babu Mathew, Dr. Baba Adhav, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Shri Mihir Desai, Shri Manoj Mitta
Executive Committee: Prashant Bhushan, Cheryl D’souza, Venkatesh Sundaram, Indu Prakash Singh, Nikhil Dey, Rohit Kumar Singh, Alok Prasanna Kumar, Pranav Sachdeva, Anjali Bhardwaj, Dipa Sinha, Annie Raja, Ramesh Nathan, Siddharth Sharma, Indira Unninayar, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijayan MJ, Harish Narasappa, Vipul Mudgal, Koninika Ray
24th February 2017
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) considers it extremely unfortunate that the very serious allegations of corruption contained in former CM of Arunachal Pradesh, Kalikho Pul’s 60 page suicide note have not been investigated so far. It was the duty of the State and Central governments, both headed by the BJP to have ensured a credible investigation into detailed and shocking charges of corruption against senior politicians and judges including several CJIs contained in the note. However, the diary was sought to be buried by the BJP government, just as they tried to bury the shocking allegations of corruption contained in the Birla & Sahara diaries.
The inaction of the governments made Mrs Pul release the diaries in public. On being told of the Veeraswami judgment of the SC which prohibits the police from investigating Judges of the higher judiciary without prior permission of the Chief Justice of India, Mrs Pul wrote to the CJI seeking such permission. The letter stated,
“By this letter I am therefore requesting you to grant permission for the registration of an FIR on the basis of the allegation of corruption contained in the suicide diary of my late husband”
Being aware that there were also allegations against the CJI and the judge next in seniority in the note, she asked the CJI to refer her application to the appropriate judges, which would normally mean those next in seniority.
However, surprisingly, she was telephonically informed on 22nd evening that her application had been converted into a writ petition and would be listed in court the next day. The supplementary list for 23rd showed that it was listed before Court 13 as item 61.
In the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave appearing on behalf of Mrs Pul expressed deep concern over the manner in which this matter was listed by the registry on the judicial side before this particular bench comprising Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice A.K. Goel, especially since Justice A.K. Goel is known to be a close colleague of Chief Justice Khehar when they were at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr. Dave sought Justice Goel’s recusal on this ground and argued that justice should appear to be done. Mr. Dave also informed the court that such a suicide note calls for an extraordinary independent investigation and should not be heard on the judicial side if the credibility of the judiciary as impartial institution has to be preserved.
The Court finally allowed Mrs Pul to withdraw her application, since she did not feel it was appropriate for the CJI to choose a particular bench for the hearing. Normally it should have been sent to the senior most judge available who was not named in the suicide note, for an administrative permission. Alternatively, it could have been referred to the President (or Vice President, since there are allegations against the President as well), for consulting the judges next in seniority.
CJAR feels that the allegations in Kalikho Pul’s diary has cast a serious cloud on the integrity of the judiciary and the only way to clear that cloud would be for the allegations to be credibly investigated. We feel that the investigation must not be in the hands of any agency under the control of the government, but must be done by an SIT appointed by the senior judges of the SC (other than those who are named). Any attempt to bury this matter as has been done in the case of the Birla Sahara diaries will just strengthen public suspicion and will cause immense damage to the credibility of the judiciary.