It’s easy to point fingers at the SC administration, but judges do have some rules: CJI

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud said on Wednesday that it’s easy to be irresponsible when making accusations against the Supreme Court administration, but the judges have to do their jobs with some discipline. He said this in response to a controversy over the listing of a politically sensitive case from Tamil Nadu before two different benches.

The CJI, who is also the master of the roster and in charge of running the top court’s administration, emphasised that the court registry follows certain rules and that he would look into relevant complaints as soon as lawyers and litigants brought them to his attention.

In response to senior advocate Dushyant Dave’s claim that the court registry must follow rules when listing cases, justice Chandrachud said, “Mr. Dave, it is always easy to be careless in your accusations against the registry. You are free to criticise anyone and everything. But as judges of this court, we have to stick to certain rules. And I’m doing what it says by looking into it.”

The argument is about a corruption case in Tamil Nadu that involves V Senthil Balaji, the minister for electricity, prohibition, and excise in the government led by the DMK. During his time as transport minister in the AIADMK government from 2011 to 2015, Balaji was accused of running a job scam, which led to several complaints being filed against him. Balaji and a few others were accused of taking bribes from people who wanted jobs at the Metro Transport Corporation on the false promise that they would get the job (MTC).

After at least three FIRs were filed in 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also filed a case against Balaji and other people under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In July 2022, the Madras high court threw out one of these FIRs because the victims who filed it and Balaji and others had reached a deal. But in September 2022, a Supreme Court bench made up of justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian overturned this order and brought back the criminal charges against the DMK leader and the other people who were charged. Justice Ramasubramanian, who wrote the decision for the bench, also told the state government to take action to get the high court to lift the stay orders in the related cases so that the prosecution could go forward according to the law.

In August 2022, the then-CJI, NV Ramana, sent an order to the bench led by justice Nazeer to hear the case.

In the meantime, on September 1, 2022, a division bench of the Madras high court told ED to stop its investigation until the petitions filed by Balaji and some other accused people challenging the criminal proceedings were decided.

In October 2022, a single-judge bench of the Madras high court refused to release Balaji and others, but they did order a new investigation in two of these cases while deciding the revision petitions.

At different times, both the people who brought the case and the ED challenged the decisions made by the division bench and the single judge bench before the Supreme Court.

But while the first set of cases were given to a bench led by justice Krishna Murari (who had heard some of these cases in 2022 when he was on a bench led by former CJI Ramana), an ED appeal was given to a bench led by justice Ramasubramanian (who authored the judgement in the matter in September 2022).

On behalf of an NGO called Anti-Corruption Movement, lawyer Prashant Bhushan brought up a contempt of court case against the state government on Wednesday morning. During the mentioning, the alleged bribe givers and takers were represented by senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Mukul Rohatgi, and Dave. ED was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Senior Counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Advocate Balaji Srinivasan spoke for the people who were wronged but did not pay bribes.

Dave spoke up to complain about how the cases were being sent to different benches. He said that the registry should be told to follow the rules.

After justice Chandrachud said that it was easy for him to criticise anyone as a lawyer, Dave said that, as the son of a judge, he respects the law and that his criticism is always fair. The CJI, on the other hand, said, “Mr. Dave, your claim that your criticism is always objective may be subjective itself.”

Justice Chandrachud ended the case by saying he would look into it and let the bench decide where all the related cases should go.

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Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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