on Judicial Accountability Vs. Union of India
& Ors  INSC 137 (8 May 1991)
B.C. (J) Ray, B.C. (J) Sharma, L.M. (J) Venkatachalliah, M.N. (J) Verma, Jagdish
Saran (J) Agrawal, S.C. (J)
1991 AIR 1598 1991 SCR (2) 741 1991 SCC (3) 65 1991 SCALE (1)902
1992 SC2219 (122)
of India, 1950/Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968:
124(5)-Enquiry into allegations of misconduct against a sitting Judge of
Supreme Court pertaining to conduct as Chief Justice of a High Court-Action of
the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in admitting a notice by Members of Parliament and
constituting an Inquiry Committee-Validity and implementation of-Application
for interlocutory relief- Court directing expeditious hearing of main case.
Petition filed by the Petitioner-Committee, a body of Advocates, praying for
directions to be issued to the Union government and the Chief Justice of India,
in connection with the enquiry into allegation of misconduct made against a
sitting Judge of the Supreme Court, pertaining to his conduct as Chief Justice
of a High Court, raised certain questions as to the validity and implementation
of the action of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in admitting a notice of motion
moved by the Members of Parliament under Article 124(5) of the Constitution of
India, 1950 read with Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
intervention applications, opposing the Writ Petition, and some other Writ
Petitions more of less endorsing the Government's stand raising the question as
to whether the motion in question survived the dissolution of the Lok Sabha or
not, were also filed.
for interim direction, which was identical with the prayer in main Writ
Petition, it was urged on behalf of the Petitioner-Committee that having regard
to the dire need of maintaining public confidence in the institution and its
reputation as apex Court, it was necessary that the concerned Judge should
abstain from discharging judicial functions during the pendnecy of the enquiry,
and a direction should be issued accordingly, or pending disposal of the Writ
Petition, the Union Government should be directed to afford all necessary
facilities to the Committee for smooth and efficient functioning.
expeditious hearing of the Writ Petition and connected matters, this Court, 742
1.1 Having regard to the nature and importance of the issues involved, it is
appropriate that the main matter along with the connected writ petitions is
heard as expeditiously as possible. Accordingly, this matter should be listed
on July 9, 1991 and hearing of the matters
proceeded with day-to-day until conclusion. [744D]
the circumstances, it is not appropriate to embark upon an examination of the
prayer for interlocutory relief. However, the Court's disinclination to issue
any interlocutory orders at this stage should not be construed as an expression
of opinion on the merits of the issues either way and as an interdiction of the
functioning of the Committee, if the Committee otherwise considers appropriate
to proceed with the matter. [744E-F]
JURISDICTION: I.A. No. 1 of 1991.
Writ Petition No. 491 of 1991.
Petition Nos. 541 & 560 of 1991 etc.
Article 32 of the Constitution of India).
Attorney General, Shanti Bhushan, Ashok Desai, Hardev Singh, Ms. Indira Jaisingh,
P.S. Poti, Rajinder Sachhar, M.K. Ramamurty, R.K. Garg, S.K. Garg, S.K. Dholakia,
Santosh Hedge, V.N. Ganpule, Tapas Ray, N.B. Shetye, P.P. Rao, Kapil Sibal,
D.S. Tewatia, Hari Swarup, Jayant, Jayant Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Ms. Madhoo
Moolchandani, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, A.K. Srivastava, E.M.S. Anam, N.D. Garg,
A.M. Khanwilkar and Ms. A. Subhashini for the Appearing Parties.
following Order of the Court was delivered:
writ petition is by a body of advocates styled "Sub-Committee on Judicial
Accountability" and raises certain questions as to the validity and
implementation of the action of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha admitting a notice
of motion moved by 108 Members of Parliament under Article 124(5)read with the
Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 and constituting an Inquiry Committee consisting of
a Judge of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of a High Court and a jurist to
investigate into the allegations of misconduct made against a sitting 743 Judge
of the Supreme Court pertaining to his conduct as the erstwhile Chief Justice
of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
main prayers in the writ petition are that the Union Government be directed to
afford facilities to the Inquiry Committee to discharge its constitutional and
statutory functions; and for directions to the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India
to abstain from allocating any judicial work to the concerned Judge during the pendency
of the proceedings before the Committee. In regard to the latter prayer that
notice should go to the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India, we think that aspect of
the matter should be deferred for the present and considered at the appropriate
stage of the final hearing. In regard to the directions to the Union
Government, the Union Government by means of an affidavit subscribed to by the
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, has made manifest its stand that
in its view the motion initiated by the 108 Members of Parliament on which the
Speaker took the decision to constitute a Committee had lapsed with the
dissolution of the Lok Sabha and that nothing further remains to be done in the
matter. It is in that view, as averred in the affidavit, that the Government of
India did not advise the President to issue any notification as required by
Para 9 read with Para 11(b)(i), Part D of Second Schedule to the Constitution
enabling the sitting Judge of this Court and the Chief Justice of High Court to
reckon the time spent by them in functioning as members of the Committee as
part of their `actual service'.
contention of the petitioner is that having regard to the constitutional and
statutory of the sitting Judges who function in the Committee, the time spent
by them in performance of such function is to be reckoned as part of their
`actual service' as judges and no notification under the concerned provisions
by the President is necessary.
relevant to mention here that some of the interveners who seek to oppose the
writ petition have, in addition to their stand against the writ petition, also
filed individual writ petitions of their own in which, more or less, they seek
to endorse the stand taken by the Government raising the question as to whether
the motion survives the dissolution of the Lok Sabha or not.
Bhushan, learned counsel for the petitioner made an impassioned plea that
having regard to the dire need of maintaining public confidence in the apex
institution and its reputation it is necessary that the concerned Judge should
abstain from discharging judicial functions during the pendency of the enquiry
against him. In the alternative, it is submitted that if a direction to that
effect is not issued, 744 it should at the least necessarily be directed that
pending disposal of the writ petition on merits, the Union of India shall
afford to the Committee such facilities as may be necessary for its effective
and prompt functioning. Shri Shanti Bhushan submitted that even if ultimately
the writ petition fails no loss or injury would be caused to anybody and what
would have resulted would only be that the eminent body of Judges would have
Occasion to look into the allegations against a sitting Judge and if they found
the allegations to be baseless, the concerned Judge would be cleared of the
imputations and cloud against his conduct.
urged, if such a direction or interim mandamus is not issued it would seriously
impair the image of the Court as the apex Court in the country and affect the
confidence of the people in the quality of justice dispensed by it.
have given our anxious consideration to the matter and having regard to the
nature and importance of the issues involved it is appropriate that the main
matter along with the connected writ petitions is heard as expeditiously as possible.
We, therefore, direct that his matter be listed on July 9, 1991 with a direction that hearing of the matters be proceeded
with day-to-day until conclusion. We also indicated that arguments on all sides
should be completed within a period of ten working days and the learned counsel
for all the parties and interveners should file their written arguments in
advance latest by July
1, 1991. The actual
hearing time to each of the counsel will be appointed at the commencement of
the hearing on July 9,
1991. In this view of
the matter, we think it appropriate not to embark upon an examination of the
contentions in support of and the prayer for interlocutory relief.
however, make it clear that our disinclination to issue any interlocutory
orders at this stage shall not be construed as an expression of opinion on the
merits of the merits of the issues either way and shall not also be construed
as an interdiction of the functioning of the Committee if the Committee
otherwise considers appropriate to proceed with the matter.
also make it clear that during the pendency of these matters before this Court
no proceeding pending or filed hereafter in any other court shall be heard or
any order passed therein relating to the issues involved in these matters.
Petition dispose of.