Can corruption charges against judge be made public before probe? SC to decide in Bhushan case

File photo of senior advocate Prashant Bhushan | Twitter

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday framed questions to be considered by it in a decade-old contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan.

One of the questions it will decide on is whether someone can go public with allegations of corruption against a judge, in the wake of an earlier top court verdict that requires such accusations to be probed by an internal committee.

The bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari, said it also will determine the circumstances in which such allegations can be treated as contempt and, if public statements have to be made, then in what circumstances.

Bhushan is facing contempt charges for his interview to Tehelka magazine in 2009 in which he was quoted as saying that half of the 16 chief justices of India were corrupt. This is separate from another contempt case in which Bhushan was, on 14 August, pronounced guilty by the top court for two of his tweets on Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde and former CJIs.

On Monday, after framing the larger questions in the 2009 case, the bench asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, Bhushan’s counsel, to come back on 24 August with his response.

Justice Mishra held the view that in accordance with an earlier verdict delivered by a bench led by the late CJI J.S. Verma, allegations against judges should not be made public at the first instance, but should be submitted before the court on its administrative side for an internal inquiry.

Dhavan agreed the questions framed were meaningful. He, however, felt they required consideration by a constitution bench and not the three-judge bench presently hearing the matter. According to him, Justice Verma’s judgment is bad in law and needs a relook.

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