New Delhi: The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR), an activist group led by advocate Prashant Bhushan, demanded a judicial probe into the alleged judicial misconduct of former chief justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal at a press conference here on Wednesday.
CJAR works in the areas of appointment of judges, judicial accountability, access to justice , and attitude of the Judiciary towards the poor.
CJAR’s demand came after the Delhi high court on 11 September held the editor of Mid-dayM.K. Tayal and three others guilty of contempt of court for publishing an article against Sabharwal on 18 May.
Since the publication of the Mid-day article, there has been a furore surrounding Sabharwal’s order passed on 16 February 2006, during his tenure as chief justice, that approved a sealing and demolition drive of commercial properties in residential areas in New Delhi.
CJAR said Sabharwal should have recused himself from the case as his sons floated two firms to construct commercial malls and IT parks where those evicted by the sealing drive allegedly bought space to relocate their businesses.
According to CJAR, the Mid-day case could set a dangerous precedent.
“Any imputations against the judiciary by the press will now amount to contempt of court,” said Prashant Bhushan.
Advocate Shanti Bhushan of CJAR requested chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan to set up a committee to look into the alleged misconduct of the former chief justice. “Though justice Sabharwal is a retired judge, chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan must order an inquiry since this is a matter of judicial integrity,” he said.
He added that an alternative would be filing a first information report under the Prevention of Corruption Act that would entail a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to stay ongoing contempt proceedings against Mid-day in the Delhi high court. The quantum of charges against Mid-day will be pronounced by the high court on Friday.
Following this, Mid-day will appeal to the Supreme Court on 28 September.