India’s Supreme Court yesterday said it was anguished 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” and this must stop.
The apex court also ordered a probe headed by retired judge Justice A K Patnaik into an alleged conspiracy to discredit Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The court made it clear that the inquiry by Justice Patnaik would not affect the Supreme Court’s in-house probe by a panel of three senior judges of the apex court into the allegations against the Chief Justice. The panel is led by justice S A Bobde.
This is the first time in the nearly seven-decade history of India’s top court that a sexual harassment complaint against the Chief Justice of India will be probed by a committee of three judges.
A special bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, expressed anguish with the way the judiciary has been treated for the past 3-4 years.
“The way this institution is treated in the last few years, we must say that we will not survive if this will happen,” the bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta, said.
“There is a systematic attack, systematic game to malign this institution,” the bench added.
The bench’s remarks and order came on an affidavit filed by lawyer Utsav Bains claiming a conspiracy to frame Chief Justice Gogoi with sexual harassment allegations levelled by a sacked junior assistant of the court.
The bench said the allegations of “bench fixing are so serious that it requires investigation.”
“The day has come when we have to rise and tell the powerful and rich people - you can’t run the institution,” said the bench adding “whenever big persons are involved these things are happening.”