SC refers plea on bribes taken in judges' name to Constitution bench

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A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit, who are not part of the collegium, had on October 27 found no merit in the plea against judges' appointments since December 2015, but chose to scrutinise in "public interest" the reasons for delay in MoP finalisation.

The order passed on Wednesday is contrary to one passed on October 27 by a two-judge bench which said "the issue can not linger on for an indefinite period". It took cognisance of the delay while hearing a petition filed by advocate RP Luthra who wanted the court to strike down all fresh appointments made after the apex court's verdict that directed the government to frame a new MoP. The court had then expressed concern that many High Courts, including of Karnataka, were having only acting chief justice, though such an arrangement should not exceed beyond one month's time.

Justice Sikri told the petitioner "this is not a drama to be enacted in the court".

The two judge Bench had then listed the matter for consideration on November 14.

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The order also referred to the xerox copy of the proceedings "purportedly" issued by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, that was placed before the bench by an official of the registry when the hearing was in progress.

This, after a Division Bench comprising Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit had taken serious note of the delay by the Central government in finalising the MoP. "That's all there is to be said", he said at the very beginning of the hearing.

"We are aware of it", the CJI replied. There is a feeling that there is undue delay. The number of vacancies in High Courts is shocking. "Access to justice is a fundamental right", Vishwanathan told the judges, requesting them not to dispose of the matter.

"How do you know what we have done?"

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The Law Ministry has proposed to appoint the Second National Judicial Pay Commission to recommend salary hikes for the 21,000 lower court judges.

In one such hearing in August 2016, Justice Thakur launched the sharpest ever public attack on the government by asking whether the Centre meant to bring the entire judicial institution to a "grinding halt" by sitting on recommendations of the Collegium for appointment and transfer of judges to High Courts.

In its FIR, the CBI alleged that promoters of the medical college, one of 46 barred by the government from admitting students for two years, had approached Quddusi who had promised relief from courts with bribes to influential people.

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