5-judge bench to decide onSIT probe into medical scam

Petitioner seeks excluding CJI from hearing case

5-judge bench to decide onSIT probe into medical scam

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered setting up a five-judge Constitution bench to examine "disturbing allegations" made in a CBI FIR in a medical college scam, allegedly involving members of the highest judiciary.

The bench was presided over by the second senior-most judge, Justice J Chelameswar.

A former Orissa High Court judge, Justice I M Quddusi, was arrested by the CBI on September 21. He, along with others, was accused of seeking money from medical colleges to settle their matters in the apex court favourably. He has been released on bail on September 28.

"The FIR (lodged on September 19) contained certain allegations which are disturbing. The allegations pertain to the functioning of this court. On perusal of the FIR which was placed before us in the morning, we thought it necessary and proper to take up the matter immediately," said the bench, also comprising Justice S Abdul Nazeer.

After taking up a petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, Justices Chelameswar and Nazeer ordered, "Having regard to the totality of the circumstances, we deem it appropriate that this matter is heard by the Constitution bench of the first five judges in the order of seniority of this court."

Taking note of the "importance" of the matter, the court directed listing of the petition on November 13.

Allowing a plea by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Jaiswal, the bench directed the CBI to keep all the materials collected during the investigation "in a sealed cover and produce the same before the Constitution bench". Dave insisted on excluding the CJI from the Constitution bench to hear the instant matter. He said, "Honourable CJI should not deal with it." To this, the bench said, "This is all we can do about it (passing order on setting up the Constitution bench).

The CJI is master of the roster and administrative head. The CJI also passed some order (not disclosed) in the matter after taking a one-hour break from the five-judge Constitution bench, hearing the dispute involving the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor. Notably, a similar petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of NGO 'Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms' is coming up for consideration before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan on Friday. The petitioner sought direction for setting up an SIT headed by a former CJI to monitor the probe.

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