Attorney general K.K. Venugopal, during a hearing in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, queried advocate Utsav Bains on the authenticity of his claims in a Facebook post with regard to an alleged conspiracy against the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Ranjan Gogoi.
The case relates to a former top court employee alleging on April 19 that she was sexually harassed by Gogoi twice last year.
In the first-half of the hearing, the AG pointed out some inconsistencies in Bains’ Facebook post regarding the conspiracy. After the AG’s comments, solicitor general Tushar Mehta suggested a court monitored SIT inquiry into the matter. “Let this be investigated thoroughly,” Mehta said.
But Bains insisted on a judicial inquiry, saying that investigative agencies have been misused in the past. The advocate also told the court that he had a “very incriminating” CCTV footage.
In a Facebook post on April 20, Bains linked the sexual harassment allegation against the CJI to what he believed was a “larger conspiracy” by “a lobby of disgruntled judges, SC fixers, corporate scamsters and a few corrupt politicians”. According to him, they “meticulously planned the conspiracy to force the CJI to resign as their ‘corrupt works were not going through in SC’.”
In the second-half of the hearing on Wednesday, Venugopal told the court that he objected to Bains’ stand that certain information regarding the conspiracy were privileged which he would not disclose.
“This is not acceptable. I really don’t understand how a person can make certain allegations and claim the rest is privileged,” Venugopal said. The SC bench replied that it wanted to hear Bains as he claimed to have credible information on the plan to hatch a conspiracy against the CJI.
The SC bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also comprised Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice Deepak Gupta.
Venugopal also asked Bains why didn’t he inform the police regarding the conspiracy, as it was the legal channel to register such a compliant.
However, the Attorney General’s stand on the issue seemed unacceptable to Bains, who retorted that the AG was making personal remarks against him.
When Justice Nariman warned Bains against making remarks against the Attorney General, the latter turned his back towards the court and started to walk out.
The court then ordered the Delhi Police to provide Bains “full protection” so that nobody can either influence or threaten him and the evidence is kept safe.
Regarding the court summoning the top officers of the three law enforcement agencies — the CBI, the IB and the Delhi police — Justice Mishra said, “This is not just an inquiry, this is something more… We will not reveal anything now. This will be kept a secret. We do not want the evidence to be destroyed.”
Justice Mishra also said that the content of Bains’ affidavit, if true, was “really very disturbing”, and threatened the independence of the judiciary.
Bains, in his affidavit dated April 22, claimed that he was approached by a man who identified himself as a relative of a former apex court staffer, who was recently sacked in the Ericsson-Ambani case.
He offered Bians nearly Rs 1.5 crore to file a false case. The person, however, had turned evasive when Bains probed him on his relationship with the former junior court officer. Bains claimed that he had credible information regarding a larger plot run by a cash-for-judgment racket by a group of lobbyists for cases in the top court.