New Delhi: Former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan Thursday told the Supreme Court that at least eight of the 16 chief justices of India (CJIs) were "definitely corrupt".
In an affidavit filed Thursday, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan said that six of the CJIs were "definitely honest" and he could not comment on the remaining two judges.
The senior counsel sought to be impleaded in a case in which his son Prashant Bhushan is facing contempt proceedings.
Sixteen CJIs that Shanti Bhushan has mentioned in his affidavit are: Justice Rangnath Mishra, Justice K.N. Singh, Justice M.H. Kaina, Justice L.M. Sharma, Justice M.N. Venkatachalliah, Justice A.M. Ahemadi, Justice J.S. Verma, Justice M.M. Punchhi, Justice A.S. Anand, Justice S.P. Bharucha, Justice B.N. Kirpal, Justice G.B. Pathak, Justice Rajendra Babu, Justice R.C. Lohati, Justice V.N. Khare and Justice Y.K. Sabharwal.
As per reports, the Bhushan has submitted the names of the eight corrupt judges in a sealed envelope to the apex court. Shanti Bhushan in his affidavit said that two former CJIs had personally told him that their immediate predecessors and immediate successors were corrupt judges. He said that the names of those four CJIs were included in the list of eight corrupt CJIs.
The plea, if accepted by the apex court is likely to open a can of worms and renew calls for a total clean up in the Indian judiciary.
The 82-year-old lawyer and his advocate son Prashant Bhushan are well known for their aggressive campaign against corruption in judiciary.
Prashant Bhushan is facing a contempt of court proceeding for writing an article on corruption in Indian judiciary and allegedly casting aspersions on CJI SH Kapadia and his predecessor Justice KG Balakrishnan.
Earlier on July 14, the Supreme Court upheld the maintainability of the suo motu contempt action initiated against advocate Prashant Bhushan for casting aspersions on CJI Kapadia and his predecessor Justice KG Balakrishnan.
A three-judge Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and H L Dattu asked Bhushan to file his affidavit within 12 weeks and posted the matter for final hearing to November 10.
"We have upheld the maintainability of the notice and have decided to hear the matter on merits," the Bench said.
Bhushan had earlier questioned the maintainability of the notice issued by the apex court on the contempt application moved by senior advocate Harish Salve for the alleged contemptuous remarks in a news magazine. Salve had moved the application while acting as the amicus curaie in the Forest Bench.
The alleged contemnor advocate had in an interview to `Tehelka` magazine made the remarks against Justice Kapadia in 2009 as well as some other judges and previous CJIs.
He had alleged Justice Kapadia, being a member of the Forest Bench along with then Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, should not have heard the matter relating to Vedanta Sterlite Group as he held shares of the company.
Justice Kapadia later recused himself from hearing a matter pertaining to the public offer made by London-based Vedanta Resources to buy additional stake in iron ore exporting firm Sesa Goa as he happens to be shareholder of a sister company.
The court had also issued a notice to Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal which had carried Bhushan`s interview.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Bhushan, had earlier argued before the Bench that it should not proceed with the contempt proceedings as there is a serious risk that it will gain an impression that it is being issued for suppressing the uncomfortable facts about the judiciary.
"If the matter is heard, the outcome can bring much more tragedy," he had said adding Salve`s application was not maintainable and should be dismissed.
The senior advocate had submitted that the power of the court to take suo motu contempt action has to be used sparingly in the rarest of rare case.