Senior Supreme Court lawyer provides details of cases and instances of “corruption” in the higher judiciary
After former law minister Shanti Bhushan has sought to implead himself in the contemption petition filed against his son, Prashant Bhushan for his comments in a magazine interview, the latter has filed a second affidavit in the contempt petition before the Supreme Court of India. This time, he says, "since the order of this court dated 14th July 2010 creates an impression that the court perhaps would only be satisfied if I were to produce evidence in support of the perception that I have voiced, I am constrained to place on record some of the evidence that was in my possession regarding the corruption of several of the former Chief Justices which I have mentioned."
It may be recalled that the contempt petition was filed by Harish Salve, acting as amicus curiae to the Supreme Court, in connection with Prashant Bhushan's claim that "out of the last 16 to 17 Chief Justices, half had been corrupt." Since then, Mr Shanti Bhushan has said that eight of the 16 Supreme Court judges were definitely corrupt and six were definitely honest, while there can be no clear opinion about the remaining two.
Mr Bhushan says, "It is exceedingly difficult to get documentary evidence of corruption in the higher judiciary". He points out that although corruption by judges is a cognisable offence, "even registration of FIRs and a regular criminal investigation has been prohibited against judges by the Supreme Court judgment in the Veeraswami case, without the written permission of the Chief Justice of India." Permission to file an FIR has not been granted even in a single case, leading to total immunity to corrupt judges against prosecution, says Mr Bhushan.
Prashant Bhushan's remarks to the magazine were in connection with the Vedanta case, where he believes that Jusice Kapadia passed "unconscionable orders"; however, he says, that he regards "Justice Kapadia to be a judge of financial integrity". According to Mr Bhushan, he is constrained to file a "more detailed second affidavit because the court chose not to react to his first affidavit, where he mentioned that Harish Salve who has filed this contempt application, styling himself as amicus curiae, had a conflict of interest in the matter himself, having held a retainer from Vedanta."
Mr Bhushan goes on to explain at great length why he considers the Vedanta order unconscionable and says that his stand is borne out by recent findings of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
He charges that instead of taking various reports about Vedanta's violations, the "court didn't find time to hear the matter till the refinery came to be constructed, in violation of the Forest Conservation Act. The court then proceeded to grant forest clearance for the mining lease, without even hearing the tribals or dealing with the very serious issues raised by its own expert body. Ignoring all the above issues, the court merely said that it needs to balance environment with development and by ordering that 5% of the mining profits should be earmarked for social development, gone on to allow Sterlite, a sister company of Vedanta to set up the refinery and do the mining in this region despite noting that Vedanta must be blacklisted for its record of dishonesty."
Mr Bhushan's narration starts with Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra, who "as a judge of the Supreme Court presided over a Commission of Inquiry on the genocide of Sikhs in 1984. He conducted the inquiry proceedings in a highly biased manner and went on to give a clean chit to the Congress party, despite there being considerable evidence implicating senior leaders of the Congress party. The evidence against the Congress leaders and party has come out in subsequent official inquiry reports as well as in the subsequent CBI investigations. He went on after his retirement to agree to become a Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress party".
Chief Justice KN Singh who followed Justice Ranganath Mishra, he says, "passed a series of unusually benevolent orders in favour of Jain Exports, and its sister concern Jain Shudh Vanaspati. Several of these were passed during his 18-day tenure as Chief Justice, and many of these cases were ordered to be listed before him by oral mentioning. This became such a talked about scandal in the corridors of the Court that eventually in a hearing on 9th December 1991, the counsel for the Union of India was forced to object to the manner in which the cases came to be listed before Justice KN Singh's bench. All these judgments came to be reviewed and reversed later by a series of subsequent benches, in some of which, the review petitions were heard in open court, in a departure from the normal procedure". The affidavit provides several details about the twists and turns in the Jain case and how they were a "much talked about scandal in the Court, even while he was Chief Justice".
Next, he says, Chief Justice AM Ahmadi who succeeded Justice Venkatachalaiah went on to quash the charge of culpable homicide in the criminal case arising out of the Bhopal Gas leak. Seven benches were changed during the hearing of this case, the only common judge in all these benches was Justice Ahmadi who was Chief Justice. It is this that "led to such miscarriage of justice, that the Supreme Court has thought it fit to issue notice on a curative petition filed by the CBI even 14 years after that judgment". Justice Ahmadi also "went on to deal with and pass several orders in the Union Carbide case involving the setting up of a hospital from the sale proceeds of Union Carbide India" and releasing Rs187 crore for the construction of the hospital, from the attached funds of Union Carbide". He went on to become the lifetime Chairman of the same hospital trust whose case he had extensively dealt with as Chief Justice.
Next, Bhushan says, "A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Kuldip Singh had on 10/5/96 passed an order staying all construction within 5km of Badkal and Surajkund Lakes in Faridabad for environmental reasons", yet Justice Ahmadi as Chief Justice, purchased a plot in the same development and went on to construct a palatial house there. He also reviewed all the orders of Justice Kuldip Singh and diluted them with many modifications. He says, "I regard Justice Ahmadi's actions in all this as morally culpable and indeed corrupt. They had become a much talked about scandal in the corridors of the court as well as among judges at that time".
In case of Justice MM Punchhi, he points out that 'the Committee on Judicial Accountability had prepared an impeachment motion which had been signed by more than 25 members of the Rajya Sabha, but did not get the requisite number of signatures since he went on to become Chief Justice of India". Bhushan goes on to outline "six extremely serious charges" that were part of the impeachment motion against the judge. These included the acquittal of KN Tapuria case, dismissal of a writ petition "containing serious allegations of malafides against the then Chief Minister of Haryana Shri Bhajan Lal".
Bhushan says "Justice Punchhi was succeeded by Dr AS Anand who too enjoyed a very controversial tenure as Chief Justice of India. During his tenure, evidence of several acts of very serious misconduct came to light and came to the possession of the Committee on Judicial Accountability. As a result of this, an impeachment motion was also prepared by the Committee on Judicial Accountability against Justice Anand which contained 4 serious charges". This included, acceptance of "gratification" from one Krishna Kumar Amla "in the form of a 2 Kanal plot of land at Ganderbal, Shrinagar". The other charges against Justice Anand include getting land in Gandhinagar in Jammu at a fraction of the market price, "abuse of influence and authority" to abet his "wife and mother-in-Law in filing a suit based on false averments in a civil court in Madhya Pradesh" and using his "influence to get the State Government of M.P. to withdraw the Special Leave Petition filed by the State against his wife". Bhushan says that despite this, it was not possible to get an impeachment motion against Justice Anand.
He next mentions the well known case of Justice YK Sabharwal who allegedly "passed a series of orders for sealing commercial properties in Delhi" forcing them to shift to large shopping malls and commercial complexes in which his sons had become partners. The sons, operating out of Justice Sabharwal's official residence were also allotted commercial plots by the Mulayam Singh/Amar Singh government of U.P. at concessional rates. It is Justice Sabharwal who stayed the publication of the infamous Amar Singh tapes.
Bhushan says that he has provided all the "documentary information on record to dispel any impression that my remarks were baseless or made with reckless disregard to the truth".
It remains to be seen how this case will play out. But the harsh glare of the media, the seniority of the counsel involved and pressure from a few former Chief Justices to ensure that the apex court acts soon to clear its name will surely mean that this is one judgment that will definitely not be delayed.
New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that the Indian economy is expected to grow at over 8.5% in the current fiscal on the back of strong factory and foodgrain output, reports PTI.
"My projection in the budget was that for year 2010-11 8.5% to 8.75% (GDP growth) and I am sticking to that position," Mukherjee told a television channel in an interview.
Indian economic growth slowed to 6.7% in 2008-09 from 9% in the previous three years in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
To blunt the impact of the global crisis, the government provided stimulus to the economy by cutting taxes and stepping up public expenditure. This catapulted economic growth to 7.4% last fiscal, despite just 0.2% farm growth because of the drought in many parts of the country.
The finance minister said that all macroeconomic indicators are pointing at a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of over 8.5% in the current fiscal.
"The growth scenario, which is being unfolded now...you have noticed all the important ingredients have started moving up," he said.
Industry, particularly manufacturing, is having double-digit growth, he said, adding, agriculture is also looking up.
Talking about inflation, Mr Mukherjee said, it is always a matter of concern in any developing country because inflation hits the poor the hardest.
He said it has been the government's endeavour to keep inflation at a moderate level but at the same time maintain a balance between keeping prices low and growth.
Inflation stood at 8.5% in August as per the new base year 2004-05.
As per the new series, inflation fell 1.3 percentage points from July level of 9.8%.
To rein in inflation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised its key short-term lending rate by 25 basis points and borrowing rate by 50 basis points last week.
While Kazi Aviation is claiming non-payment as the reason, Concurrent is saying that the company's name was not included in various licenses by Kazi Aviation as per an agreement
Concurrent (India) Infrastructure Ltd's game of moving what seems to be false information with the stock exchanges and investors continues unabated. The latest in the series is a cancellation of its deal with Kazi Aviation & Travel Services due to non-funding as per a previous agreement.
Earlier in March, Concurrent announced that it had bought a majority stake in Kazi Aviation for an undisclosed sum. However, Kazi Aviation, an aviation service provider, has cancelled the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two companies as Concurrent has not infused any funds into the aviation business as per the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Confirming the cancellation of the deal, Dr Hamid Abdulaziz Kazi, chairman, Kazi Aviation, said, "We were supposed to get Rs1 crore upfront for purchase of various ground handling equipment and as royalty. We issued a good number of shares on preferential basis to Concurrent. However, they did not pay us any money. Therefore we decided to terminate our MoU."
Fayyaz Shaikh, executive director, Kazi Aviation said, "Concurrent has misused our company and business contacts. It was our company that was instrumental in awarding three projects, the Sikkim power project (read more: http://www.moneylife.in/article/8/6290.html), the Sri Lanka land deal and the MoU with Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a joint venture in ground handling services in Saudi Arabia."
According to Mr Shaikh, Concurrent could not even pay the licensing fees in Saudi Arabia. "The company has a habit of just making announcements, but there is nothing on the ground level. Even for the Sikkim power project, which was in the pipeline, the company went ahead and declared it. I think Concurrent is only interested in raising money from the market through announcements," he said.
However, K Sudhir Babu, chairman and managing director (CMD) of Concurrent has a contradictory view. He said, "As per our deal with Kazi Aviation, the company was supposed to include Concurrent's name in its licenses, especially for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) license at Chennai. However, it did not. It was repeated with all licenses related with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)."
"Concurrent has asked Kazi Aviation to return the token amount of Rs5 lakh as the deal fell through," he said.
The Concurrent CMD said that the company is in final discussions with other MRO services providers from Hyderabad, he said that he hopes that this (new) deal would be more beneficial rather than the Kazi Aviation deal.
Similarly, Kazi Aviation has also found another partner, US-based Arjay Global Ltd, which has agreed to invest Rs10 crore for various aviation activities and aviation fuel supplies, Dr Kazi said in an email.
Interestingly, there is an error while accessing the home page of the Kazi Aviation site. However, the other pages are loading properly.