March 20, 2018

SC seeks Centre's response on plea to save endangered tigers

14 November 2017, 10:30 | Joan Schultz

Medical college owners worked the system

Supreme Court

After freezing an order by the bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar referring to a constitution bench the plea for a SIT probe into graft allegations against a retired Orissa High Court judge in a medical college scam, Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Saturday withdrew the matter from Justice Chelameswar's bench and assigned it to a three judge bench headed by Justice RK Agrawal.

The order, slated to be pronounced at 2pm on Tuesday, will not only clarify the top court's position in the stand-off between petitioners and the judiciary, but may also decide Bhushan and Jaiswal's fate and whether they face contempt. The other petition in the court was filed by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms.

The bribes, according to the investigation being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation, were meant to sway decisions in the favour of an Uttar Pradesh-based organisation that has been seeking reinstatement of licences for its medical colleges.

However, Justice Mishra was quick to clarify that no sitting judge of the top court was specifically named in CBI's FIR.

Appearing for Tamil Nadu government, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, submitted that the Madras high court had stayed the notification on liquor shops observing that the July 11 order pertained only to Chandigarh and not to the whole country. The allegations amounted to a deliberate attempt to scandalise the institution and denigrate the system, he said.

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The petition, filed by advocate Anupam Tripathi, said tigers were being killed either by poisoning by locals or the authorities, shooting by forest guards or by poaching.

Attorney General KK Venugopal observed that the court was facing a crisis that was brought about by the petitions.

Bhushan contended that no direct allegations were made against the chief justice. "Although it does not name any acting judge directly but talk of bribes to influence a pending's serious", Mishra said.

The hearing, which got increasingly heated, found Justice Mishra warning the petitioners that if such behavouir was allowed to go unpunished, no judge would be spared.

The bench headed by Justice Kurien Joseph has requested Chief Justice of India to constitute a constitutional bench.

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