I have been wrongly accused, says Kabir

I have been wrongly accused, says Kabir

Days after retiring as Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir said today that the recent comments attributed to a bench headed by his successor Justice P Sathasivam amounted to his "indictment" but he had been subsequently told that the bench made no such observations.

Kabir, who demitted office on July 18, spoke on controversies surrounding his tenure including the comments attributed to the bench headed by Sathasivam which had purportedly said that the orders in the Jayaprakash Associates case should not have been passed by a bench headed by him.

The bench headed by the former chief justice was dealing with the matter of payment of Rs 100 crore fine that the Himachal Pradesh high court had slapped on the company in a particular case.

The bench comprising Justice Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi in its order on Wednesday while hearing the Jayaprakash Associates case purportedly said that these orders should not have been passed.

Referring to the news report by a leading newspaper in this regard, Kabir said he had spoken to Justice Sathasivam and also Justice Gogoi after it appeared.

"...I spoke to Chief Justice and he said, I had never said this. I also asked Justice Gogoi, who is a partner on this bench, he said certainly not. We have mot said this at all.

Now I am going to take some kind of positive steps. I've requested the judges to give it to me in writing, if necessary I will take it up with...(the newspaper)," Kabir told CNN IBN's Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate programme.

Kabir agreed with the questioner that the remarks by the bench headed by Sathasivam amounted to an "indictment" but asserted it is not a "correct indictment."
"I have been wrongly indicted by the CJI," he said.

Kabir replied in the affirmative when asked if he felt embarrassed and annoyed by the "indictment" following purported comments by the bench headed by Sathasivam.
The former CJI said he is owed an apology if the comments turn out to be correct.

He also spoke about the majority judgement of a three-member bench headed him delivered on the day of his retirement which related to the controversial NEET verdict that the Medical Council of India(MCI) had no jurisdiction for conducting the common entrance test for medical colleges.

He said there was absolutely no "leak" of the verdict of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test(NEET).

It has been alleged that some contents of the verdict were allegedly leaked before its pronouncement on July 18 and that Justice A R Dave would give a dissenting judgement.

"Absolutely there was no leak on NEET judgement. I don't know if the judgement was leaked," Kabir said, adding that whatever was being said before the pronouncement of the verdict was a "simply a kid of speculation."

"...that Justice Dave was going to dissent was something which was not known to us till the very end. Either it is a coincidence or a leak I don't know, but not from here," he added.

The apex court in a 2-1 verdict scrapped holding of NEET for admission to MBBS, BDS and post-graduate courses in medical colleges, paving the way for private colleges to conduct their own examination.

"Main issue was not if it benefits students or people. It was a legal question if the MCI legally had a right to impose a single window for exams," he added.

Kabir also said he was trying to understand why he was being "targeted." "But I think you should get a response from the members of the bar in general," he added.

To a question, Kabir said corruption issue in judiciary is "exaggerated." "By and large judiciary is above board," he added. He also said that the collegium system for selection of judges in the Supreme Court is the "best we can have under the circumstances." The collegium system has often come under criticism for not being transparent.

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