New Delhi: A day after the Gujarat government forced CBI to retract one of the grounds it had cited to seek transfer of Sohrabuddin encounter case outside the state, the Centre on
Wednesday hit back by requesting the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against key accused Amit Shah and his counsel Ram Jethmalani for making “baseless allegations” against an apex court judge.
The Narendra Modi government had used the contempt card on Tuesday to allege that CBI was guilty of denigrating the entire Gujarat judiciary by relying on source-based information to allege that the kith and kin of accused were posted as prosecutors, magistrates and judges in lower judiciary in Gujarat. The agency had immediately expressed its readiness to seek deletion of the offending paragraph.
The Centre, through additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, paid back in the same coin and said Shah and Jethmalani were equally guilty of contempt by making baseless allegations against Justice Tarun Chatterjee to bring judiciary into disrepute.
She said it was baseless to allege that Justice Chatterjee faced CBI scrutiny in Ghaziabad PF scam case when the bench headed by him had ordered CBI probe into the Sohrabuddin encounter case and that the Centre had rewarded him with a “cushy” post-retirement job soon after his retirement.
Arguing before a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai, the additional solicitor general said Justice Chatterjee was appointed to a commission by the apex court through a judicial order and the Centre or the CBI had no role in it.
“Both Shah and Jethmalani, who settled the application seeking recall of the January 12 order, allege a conspiracy not only between the Centre and the CBI but a tripartite conspiracy between the Centre, the CBI and by innuendo the Supreme Court,” Jaising said.
“The affidavit of the applicant as well as the conduct of the counsel who has settled the pleadings are in contempt of court and the Supreme Court should initiate suo motu contempt proceedings under Article 129 of the Constitution of India, not only against Shah but also the advocates who have drafted and settled the said application and has affixed his signature with the noting ‘settled by Ram Jethmalani, senior advocate and drawn and filed by Anish Kumar Gupta’,” she said.
Jethmalani termed her arguments “hysterical” and said, “I will not withdraw the allegations. If anyone hascommitted contempt, it was me. For, I argued the matter before the court.”
This made Jaising react sharply, “Mr Jethmalani, for you, all arguments by women advocates are hysterical, not the men. I have mentioned your name for initiation of contempt proceedings, let us see the explanation once the notices for contempt are issued.”
The bench intervened and said both the CBI and Shah were equally in danger of contempt proceedings. “Draftsmen on both sides are in grave danger. The CBI too made very irresponsible statement about Gujarat judiciary,” it said.
Jaising defended the court’s decision to order CBI probe into the Sohrabuddin encounter case saying whenever top police officials were involved in a crime, the apex court had traditionally entrusted investigations of the case to CBI.