Activists demand probe in matters associated with ex-CJI Altamas Kabir

Lucknow-based activists have prayed Chief Justice Sathasivam for an independent enquiry into various allegations associated with outgoing Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, including alleged leak of an order on medical entrance test passed on his last day

Lucknow-based activists, Dr Nutan Thakur and Asok Pande have demanded a probe by independent body into various allegations associated with outgoing Chief Justice Altamas
Kabir. The allegations include, leakage of an order passed on his last day, allegations of not promoting Bhaskar Bhattacharya, former Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court for vested reasons and exerting undue pressure on Supreme Court Collegium to elevate a Judge to the Supreme Court.

In a letter sent to Chief Justice P Sathasivam, the activists said, at 8.36am on 18th July, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, a lawyer from the Supreme Court published an article 'Into the Darkness' on a website 'Bar and Bench'. The article stated, "In a little while, on his last day in office, the Chief Justice's court will deliver the much awaited judgment concerning the validity of the national medical entrance test to be conducted by the Medical Council of India. For the better part of the last week, senior counsel and junior advocates alike have without compunction shared a story that the appeals by the private colleges will be allowed with a declaration that the MCI has no jurisdiction, and that Justice Dave will dissent from this view. The judgment, it is confidently touted, runs into more than 190 pages and in excess of 300 paragraphs. It is my fervent hope that this tale is false - a figment of some perverse and destructive mind. In a few hours, we will know the truth."

On the same day at 11am, the three Judge bench including the then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice AR Dave quashed the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) notification for holding common entrance tests for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) and post-graduate medicalcourses.

Calling the pronouncement of almost same kind of judgement by the Bench headed by the ex-CJI, the activists have an independent enquiry preferably by Committee consisting of retired Chief Justice or Justice of Supreme Court, eminent advocate like Prashant Bhushan, Fali Nariman and social activist like Anna Hazare or Aruna Roy.

Dr Thakur and Mr Pande also cited articles from Times of India, Hindustan Times and Bar and Bench.

Here is what the report from the Hindustan Times, says...
"Meanwhile, CJI Kabir was caught unawares when informed that an article by SC advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan - uploaded on a website two hours before the verdict - had leaked the judgment and even mentioned that Justice Dave's would be the dissenting vote. The article talked about "gossip" within court circles that the appeals by private colleges against the NEET would be allowed.  When questioned about the 'leak', Justice Kabir said he was surprised and shocked. "What can I say about it?" he said.  The outgoing CJI was on his way to his farewell party when media persons questioned him."

An article published by Times of India on 19th July titled "Collegium stalls outgoing CJI's attempt to push judge's appointment to SC" also talks about former CJI Kabir's meeting with the Collegium. It says...

In an unprecedented step, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir had - a fortnight before his retirement - proposed before the Collegium of four senior-most Supreme Court Judges for recommending to the Centre to appoint a high court Chief Justice as Judge of the apex court. The CJI had on July 2 requisitioned a meeting of the Collegium comprising himself and justices P Sathasivam, GS Singhvi, RM Lodha and HL Dattu. Once they assembled, the Collegium members were told by the CJI about the proposal. But, the CJI was told that the President has signed the warrant of appointment designating justice Sathasivam as the next CJI and fixed July 19 for administering oath to him. Since, the warrant of appointment had come, it would be against precedents and tradition for the outgoing Chief Justice of India to push for appointment of Judges to the high courts or the Supreme Court.

Not convinced, Justice Kabir sought individual opinions of each member of the Collegium on the tradition and precedent thrown at him to stall his last proposal as the head of the judiciary. All four senior-most judges concurred that it would not be proper for the outgoing CJI to push for an appointment to the Supreme Court especially when his successor had been issued warrant of appointment. He was told that in the past, the outgoing Chief Justices had in fact requisitioned the meeting of Collegium but it was only to address an emergency, like an ad-hoc Judge's tenure in a high court coming to an end prior to the new CJI taking oath warranting extension or denial thereof. Unconvinced by the logic presented to scuttle his proposal, the CJI, it is learnt, flared up accusing the Collegium members of "ganging up" against him. With the overwhelming majority in the Collegium not favouring breaching the tradition and precedent, the CJI had no option but to drop his proposal.

Another article published on 12 July 2013 on the Bar and Bench site, claimed that Bhattacharya, former CJ of Gujarat HC alleged that the real reason for him not being denied a place in SC was opposition to elevation of (ex-CJI) Kabir's sister Shukla Kabir Sinha, to the Calcutta High Court.  

The activists requested CJI Sathasivam, to get all the facts mentioned in their petition enquired by a completely independent body and take all possible measures, including criminal and administrative measures on extremely critical issues raised in the petition as well as published in various news articles and as leveled by a person of the stature of acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat HC.

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