CJI Sathasivam assures probe into leakage of Supreme Court's order

The newly-appointed Chief Justice of India, Justice P Sathasivam, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, has said that the alleged leakage of the Supreme Court's judgement which quashed Medical Council of India's (MCI) decision to hold a common entrance test for medical colleges, will be probed.

"I came to know from the media. Nobody will accept this. Nobody should encourage this. We are following a very strict procedure. I don't know how it has come. We have to inquire," he said.

Justice Sathasivam also said that he is planning to increase women's representation in the judiciary.

"We are going to identify more women judges not only in the Supreme Court but also in all High Courts," he said. Presently, the top court has just two women judges.

On the contentious issue of judges' appointment, he defended the existing collegium system and said, "It's not the collegium of judges alone, the Chief Justices of High Court and Supreme Court also. They consult various authorities, not only the collegium judges, other respected senior members, and both the state and the central government. They offer their views. It's not a one man's decision or a group of person's decision."

Justice Sathasivam also said that the pending cases of death penalty, where the President has rejected the mercy petitions of the convicts, will soon be sent to the Constitutional bench.

"That question is sub-judice. It is still pending in the Supreme Court. Wait for some more time. There's going to be an authoritative pronouncement," he said.

Mercy petitions of more than 15 death row prisoners, including three men in jail in Tamil Nadu for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and four members of the gang led by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, who are in prison in Karnataka, are currently pending before the Supreme Court. These petitioners had approached the top court citing long delay in deciding on their mercy petitions.

The court had, in April this year, turned down that same argument in the case of Punjab militant Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who was convicted of a bomb blast in Delhi in 1993 in which nine people were killed. His appeal to have his sentence commuted was turned down by the President after eight years. In its order, the Supreme Court had said that terrorists cannot seek mercy by citing inordinate delays in the final call on their appeals.

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