New Delhi, Aug 8: The Supreme Court today dismissed the insinuation made against the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice for allegedly favouring Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case.
The apex court was hearing a petition accusing the High Court Chief Justice F I Rebello of changing the bench to hear the matter after his meeting with the Chief Minister and her close aide S C Mishra in Lucknow.
“There is nothing wrong in meeting of the Chief Justice with the Chief Minister of a state. Under the protocol, once a new Chief Justice comes, such meeting happens,” a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik said. “There are various problems in High Courts which are to be sorted out by meeting the Chief Ministers (of various states)”, the bench said adding there are issues like expansion and modernisation and for that “judges have to meet with the Chief Minister. After all, the budgetary power is with them”.
The petition filed by a Lucknow resident Kashi Nath Yadav had brought to the notice of the court that Rebello was appointed as the Chief Justice of the High Court on June 26, 2010, and a month after on July 21, the Chief Minister had met him, following which the Registry came out with a proposal of bifurcating the PILs into civil and criminal matters on July 23.
Further, the UP Press Information Bureau came out with a press note on August 19 about the next meeting of Chief Justice with Mayawati and Mishra and immediately after that on August 28, the High Court came out with an administrative order of bifurcating the PILs into two categories. The petition said that later a classificatory order was also passed by the Registry on August 31 that the PIL wherein sanction/non sanction relating to Prevention of Corruption Act was involved would be classified as PIL (criminal).
“This particular classification was clearly meant for the PILs pending against the Chief Minister of UP as this was the only case affected by the said order,” advocates Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for Yadav, said. However, the bench did not agree that such changes were made immediately after that meeting.
“This is the prerogative of the High Court. You cannot say that the Chief Justice cannot distribute work among judges. We cannot dilute powers of High Courts by interfering in it,” the bench said adding “we are sure that the new bench would be equally competent”.
Over changes in the bench immediately after that meeting between the HC Chief Justice and the Chief Minister, the apex court said “this can be a mere coincidence. There is nothing in it. Such meeting happens for operational purpose.” The bench further shot back at Bhushan, who is facing a contempt of court case in the Supreme Court, saying “if he meets some judges at some function, then would it be a conspiracy”?
On his submissions that objections were raised by counsel before the High Court, Justice Patnaik said “sometimes, there is a tussle between lawyers and judges”. The bench further said the “Chief Justice of a High Court is a tough job. You have to be tough with the judges and the counsels both... You are from Allahabad, you should know it”. PTI