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SC dismisses PIL against a former apex court judge

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL by lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeking a CBI probe against former apex court judge, Justice C.K.Prasad, for alleged misconduct as a judge.

The PIL has also sought direction to the central government to initiate steps for the removal Justice Prasad as the chairman of the Press Council of India.

Dismissing the plea by Prashant Bhushan, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant said it was their opinion that “any person, who is aggrieved by any kind of order passed by respondent no.4 (Justice Prasad) in the discharge of his judicial duty while functioning as a judge of this court” can file an application for review or take recourse to the curative petition or any other legal remedy available in law.

But, Justice Misra pronouncing the order, said that such a petitioner “cannot be allowed to make such a prayer invoking the conceptual facet of Public Interest Litigation” under article 32 of the constitution.

“This will open a dangerous door which can’t be shut to file anything against the judge over his order. Assuming the order is incorrect or absurd, it may be corrected by review or corrective petition,” the court said not accepting senior counsel Shanti Bhushan’s submission that what had happened was a “gross misconduct” on the part of the now retired judge.

Noting that even Supreme Court Bar Association president Dushyant Dave had written to the then chief justice about the incident relating to a matter before the court, Bhushan said: “It is an open and shut case of gross misconduct of a former judge of the apex court.”

Telling Shanti Bhushan that the petitioner Prashant Bhushan had no locus and was a total stranger to the matter that is being raised against Justice Prasad to allege misconduct on his part, the court said: “Who are you? You are a stranger…”

Telling the court that “unless the matter is taken seriously, there will be no credibility of the apex court”, Bhushan said that “the facts of the case will shock the conscience of the court” and “the entire bar understands the matter.”

The court did not accept Bhushan’s argument that unless the FIR is registered against the former judge, “the credibility of the judiciary will be endangered” and it was “obligatory on the part of the investigating agency to register FIR” as directed by the apex court in its verdict in Lalitha Kumari case.

“We are absolutely convinced that the view expressed by the Constitution Bench in Lalitha Kumari is not applicable to the facts of the case,” the court said, dismissing the PIL.