Two days after former law minister Shanti Bhushan alleged that eight out of 16 former CJIs were corrupt, his advocate son Prashant Bhushan on Saturday filed another affidavit in the Supreme Court listing alleged instances of corruption against six of them.
Prashant — who is facing contempt proceedings for alleging in an interview to Tehelka that out of the last 16 or 17 CJIs, half were corrupt — said his statement was based on documentary, oral and circumstantial evidence; and on nature of the orders passed by them. None of the six former CJIs was available for comment.
Explaining that corruption did not mean just bribe taking, Prashant said he used the term in a wider sense of being “morally culpable or blameworthy”.
In the interview, he had also raised the issue of conflict of interest against the current CJI S.H. Kapadia for hearing the Vedanta case despite holding shares in the company.
Stating that he regarded Justice Kapadia to be “a judge of financial integrity”, Prashant said, “the use of the word “corruption” here was only in the context of a conflict of interest in the matter by virtue of his shareholding in the company (Vedanta) in whose favour his orders were passed.”
He also pointed out that senior counsel Harish Salve, who filed the contempt application, “styling himself as Amicus Curiae” (friend of the court), had a conflict of interest in the matter, as he held a retainership from Vedanta. Prashant said: “My statement as regards his (Justice Kapadia’s) actions in the Vedanta case was in response to a question about “other ways in which corruption manifests itself in the judiciary.
“However, I did strongly feel that being a shareholder in Sterlite, it was improper on the part of Justice Kapadia to have dealt with the Vedanta/Sterlite case…The hearing of the case began in 2005, and the disclosure of his (Justice Kapadia’s) shareholding was made only in October 2007. Moreover, it was not made to ask lawyers whether he should recuse himself but casually in a different context,” he stated.
Maintaining that the 16-17 former CJIs included some of the finest, he stated, “When I said that in my view about half of the last 16-17 chief justices were corrupt, I certainly didn’t intend to paint the entire judiciary or the SC with the same brush.”