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Thursday, September 21, 2023

2 Judges opt out of hearing challenge to Chief Justice of India appointment

New Delhi: Delhi High Court Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad Friday recused from hearing a plea seeking review of its order dismissing a challenge to the appointment of Justice D Y Chandrachud as the Chief Justice of India (CJI). The division bench of the high court noted that certain allegations have also been levelled against them in the petition, and said it cannot hear the case.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Sharma said the plea will be heard by another bench on January 16.

The counsel appearing for the Centre said he will be pressing for the initiation of contempt proceedings against the petitioner.

The high court had on November 11, 2022, dismissed with costs of ₹ 1 lakh the public interest litigation by Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari against the appointment of Justice Chandrachud as the CJI.

While dismissing the PIL, the bench had said the offices held by the constitutional functionaries in public trust are not open to denigration by self-styled warriors of public interest on the basis of superficial allegations.

The petitioner, in his review plea, has sought to set aside the earlier order as well as to waive off the costs.

“The petitioner fails to understand the provisions of law which debars the petitioner from approaching the high court with a request to ensure compliance of various provisions of the Constitution for appointment of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India or use of Hindi language in courts.

“Imposing penalty for such a petition is the most unjust and unconstitutional action of the chief justice and his companion judge. Hence the review petition is filed, ” he alleged.

The court had observed that Article 124 (Establishment and constitution of Supreme Court) of the Constitution has followed in the matter of the appointment of the CJI and “it has now become fashion to approach the court by making scandalous allegations against judges”. Justice Chandrachud took oath as the 50th CJI on November 9, 2022.

The petitioner, who claimed to be the national president of an organization named Gram Uday Foundation, had alleged that the appointment of the CJI was against the provisions of the Constitution.

The high court had said that the petition was filed to gain publicity and that it went against the genesis of a social interest litigation and was nothing but an abuse of the process of law.

“The petitioner in the instant writ petition has made scandalous allegations against the former Chief Justices of India without there being any material in support of the same filed along with the writ petition. It is unfortunate that allegations have been made against other high dignitaries, including the Union Law Minister. The instant petition appears to be more of a publicity-oriented litigation instead of a public interest litigation,” the court had further noted.

It had observed that the PIL was developed as a powerful tool to espouse the case of the marginalized and oppressed sections of society but it is increasingly being abused by “publicity mongers” for “cheap popularity” and many times pleas are to “blackmail people”.

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