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Prashant Bhushan writes to PM opposing Justice CK Prasad’s appointment as PCI Chairman; alleges misuse of position as a Judge

Apoorva Mandhani
27 Nov 2014 5:28 PM GMT
Prashant Bhushan writes to PM opposing Justice CK Prasad’s appointment as PCI Chairman; alleges misuse of position as a Judge
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The activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, in his capacity as the Convener of  ‘the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms’, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting the cancellation of appointment of Justice C.K. Prasad as the Chairperson of the Press Council of India. A copy of the letter is with Live Law.

The letter alleges that Justice Prasad is “nota fit person to be appointed as the chairman of PCI since he has misused his position as a Judge of Supreme Court.”

Mr. Bhushan further alleges in the letter that, “The non-existence of any transparent and objective procedure, at present, to appoint head of various councils and commissions is leading to unfit and corrupt people heading important offices. The practice of appointing any retired judge to office without proper consultation and procedure leads to erosion of rule of law.”

MrBhushan has demanded that that an independent body should be set up which would exclusively deal with the appointments of retired Judges to important offices. This step will, it says,  “restore the trust of people in the credibility of various offices and the judiciary.”

 The letter by Bhushan refers to a letter written in February by Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, to the then Chief Justice of India, P. Sathasivam, which states that Justice C.K. Prasad while hearing a Special Leave Appeal (crl) no. 7232/20113, ordered to list civil appeal no. 9454-3455/2013 (though he intended that civil appeal no. was 9454-9455/2010 be listed) as the matter were of similar nature on his own and without any of the counsels asking for the same.On the next hearing when matter came up on board, civil petitions were not listed because of wrong civil appeal no being mentioned in the previous order. The court again ordered to tie up the matter as urgent.

When both of the matters when came up for hearing on 25th February 2014, at the outset itself, Justice C.K. Prasad who was heading the Bench,  accepted the submission of Senior Advocate C.U Singh, that both the matters were not connected to each other. Despite, there being no connection, civil appeal no 9454-9455/2010 was taken up and in the absence of any effective representation from City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra(CIDCO), the civil appeal was allowed without any debate. This was despite the fact that settlement was rejected earlier by a different Bench of the Supreme Court through an order dated 25.04.2013. This had led to Mistry Construction obtaining the respective tender and 35 hectares of prime land worth hundreds of crores which was rejected by the Bombay High Court.

Dave’s letter had raised several questions such as how did the Bench become aware of Civil Appeal when the matter had never crossed its path and how could the Bench pass a suo motu order without the presence of the Counsels. It also concerned itself with the procedural defects while tagging the two appeals together and the “violation of judicial propriety and decorum” visible in the incident.

Mr. Dave’s letter had finally demanded that the former CJI should“act forthwith to restore the dignity of the Court and to prevent some of us from losing faith in the Institution completely.”

Mr. Bhushan’s letter hence says that this incident, “clearly raised eyebrows as a matter was tagged and listed without there being no similarity and without any party counsel asking for the same. A matter was disposed off without hearing a statutory body which was a party to the case.”

Mr. Dave had referred to the above developments as “extraordinary”, and “unparalleled, reflecting gross abuse of judicial power to cause damage to public running into an unspecified amount.”

The controversy was however, put to rest in September, for a short period of time, by a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Chelameswar and Justice P.C. Ghose, after they dismissed the Review Petition filed by City & Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO) and had indirectly dismissed Dave’s allegations. Read the Live Law story here.

The matter had raised significant legal and ethical questions, even compelling Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice K T Thomas to write to the Chief Justice of India, urging him to take suitable action regarding the allegations in Dave’s letter. Read Justice Krishna Iyer’s letter and Live Law’s coverage of the same, here.

Live Law  has learned that a Senior Advocate, who is known for his integrity, has even given a Certificate for filing curative petition, but CIDCO has not taken any steps towards the same.

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