A public interest litigation seeking a court-monitored probe into the alleged Lucknow medical college admission scam and allegations of bribery against judges will be heard by a three-judge bench on Monday.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra set up a three-judge bench of Justices RK Agarwal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar on Saturday to hear the case filed by an NGO, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms. The alleged scam is currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The development came a day after a bench led by Justice AK Sikri passed orders on the NGO’s plea referring the case to the CJI for listing.
On Friday, a special five-judge bench annulled an order passed by a two-judge bench of the apex court on a similar petition by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, listing the case for hearing by a Constitution bench of the five most senior judges of the court minus the CJI.
All the three judges of the newly formed bench were also part of the five-judge special bench which on Friday conclusively laid down that the CJI is “the master of the roster” and as far as composition of benches is concerned the prerogative rests squarely with him.
While forming the new bench to hear the case, the CJI decided to ignore the top six judges of the Supreme Court. Justice RK Agarwal is the eighth most senior judge of the court.
At the heart of the controversy is a case filed by the Prasad Education Trust seeking relief from a government order barring it from admitting students to its medical college in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The trust sought relief from the Supreme Court and the Allahabad high court. On September 18, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by the CJI denied it relief for 2017-18 and asked the Medical Council of India to reassess the college regarding its admission of students for 2018-19.
Around the same time, the CBI filed a case against Justice (retired) IM Quddusi and a certain Bhavna Pandey under the anti-corruption law. The two were accused of assuring the college representative of getting favourable orders from the top court.
The Supreme Court witnessed dramatic scenes on Friday during a hearing before a special five-judge bench, including an exchange between the CJI and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, with the latter asking the former to recuse himself from the case and the former refusing to do so. That was followed by a demand by a group of lawyers for a contempt petition against Bhushan over his having cast aspersions on the CJI.