The Supreme Court Thursday constituted a one-man panel of former apex court judge Justice AK Patnaik to hold inquiry into the allegations of larger conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and fixing of benches in the top court. The apex court asked the Directors of CBI and IB as also the Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with Justice (Retd) Patnaik as and when sought by him during the inquiry.
The top court said however that the inquiry by will not deal with the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI. It said the outcome of the inquiry will not affect the in-house committee which is dealing with the complaint against the CJI. The apex court said that on the completion of inquiry, Justice (Retd) Patnaik will file a report in a sealed cover before the court after which the matter will be heard again. It left it to the panel to take assistance of the people required for the inquiry.
In the order, a special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said: "Considering the factual gamut and the affidavits filed by advocate Utsav Singh Bains, we are appointing Justice A K Patnaik, retired judge of this court, to hold inquiry into the allegations levelled in the affidavit filed by Bains." The bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta, clarified that he "would not deal with the allegations of mis-behaviour by the CJI". It also said that the "outcome of the inquiry and its findings" would not affect the in-house inquiry which has been ordered.
The bench further said: "Directors of CBI and IB and Delhi Police Commissioner would render cooperation to Justice (Retd) Patnaik as an when required during his inquiry." The bench ordered that the affidavit filed by advocate Bains be transferred to Justice (Retd) Patnaik in a sealed cover. While dictating the order, the bench at the outset said, "We have decided that no privilege can be claimed on certain communications the advocate is claiming and he has to disclose the information as and when required."
The Supreme Court earlier on Thursday expressed anguish over the "systematic attack" on the judiciary and said time has come to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they are "playing with fire". The apex court made this observation while hearing claims made by an advocate that there was a larger conspiracy to frame the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment.