New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Ananga Kumar Patnaik will probe allegations of a conspiracy to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case, a special bench of the apex court announced on Thursday.
“Money power or political power" cannot be allowed to control the apex court, the three-judge special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said as it sought a detailed investigation into the conspiracy allegations levelled by lawyer Utsav Singh Bains.
“We have to tell the rich and powerful of the country that you can’t do this. You are playing with fire," Mishra said.
The special bench, also comprising Justices R.F. Nariman and Deepak Gupta, said Patnaik would probe the contents of affidavits filed by Bains.
The bench said that Bains cannot claim immunity with respect to the communication between a lawyer and his client, and is bound to disclose all the information he possesses.
Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing independently, submitted that the conspiracy theory seems like a defence against the sexual harassment allegations against Gogoi, and that the special bench “should not investigate into the defence of the complaint".
Nariman assured her that the Supreme Court internal committee will look into the sexual harassment allegations, while the proceedings on the conspiracy allegations run independently.
The bench also asked Jaisingh and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta not to “provoke" the judges into divulging any information or give their “comments" at the moment. “You do not know the entire facts and we can’t tell you right now," Mishra said. “There are some serious allegations that need to be probed. Money power or political power cannot control the Supreme Court."
“We are in anguish on the way the institution has been treated in past 3-4 years. Like this, the institution will die," Mishra added angrily.
The court ordered the director of Central Bureau of Investigation, director of Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with Patnaik.