Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir says he's being wrongly indicted by his successor CJI P Sathasivam and demands an apology. In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, the former CJI also denies any leak of the National Eligibilty cum Entrance Test judgment.
On collegium system for selecting SC judges former, the CJI says that it is the best system under the circumstances.
Transcript of the interview:
On NEET judgement being leaked
“Absolutely there was no leak on NEET judgment. I don’t know if the judgement was leaked.”
“Who gains by this leak? How does he know that Justice Dave is going to dissect? Suppose it leaked from my chamber here. How would anybody know that Justice Dave is going to dissect? So my view is that it's just some kind of speculation.”
“Not very accurately, but what he did, predict it to some extent which was true. The judgment was above 190 pages...I would like to repeat, that Justice Dave was going to dissect was something not known to us. Either it's a coincidence or a leak, but not from here.”
On Justice Dave delivering NEET judgment
“If I remember correctly, the draft copy of judgment was handed over to Justice Dave one week before the actual judgment was delivered. The main issue involved was not whether it benefitted the students or not. The legal question was whether the Medical Council of India has the authority/jurisdiction under the law to impose a single window exam.”
“Justice Dave had sufficient time to look into the judgment and the very first opening lines set out what were the actual issues involved. Those issues were not addressed…he went by his personal emotion, if I can understand from his judgment, what he believed is a single window exam will be beneficial for students. But that was not the law.”
On criticism of taking up matters of other benches
“Took up the JP case after the matter was referred to me by the Justice who was hearing the case”.
On the present CJI on the JP case
“It is not a correct indictment, whatever he has said is incorrect. I have been wrongly indicted by the CJI.”
“Let us take the Jai Prakash case. This was a case from Himachal Pradesh, where the HC had directed that Rs 100 crore or so were to be deposited as fine under pollution control laws. When the matter was first taken up by the other bench, notice was issued, there was no interim order.
“The matter came up before that bench a number of times. Finally an application was filed by the petitioners for an interim order. That application was deferred till finally it was directed by that bench that the interim order matter will come up along with the main matter. It did come up and that bench said ‘no we are not passing an interim order’.
“The difficulty was when the matter came up for final order. That bench was being headed by Justice A K Patnaik. When the matter was mentioned before his lordship, his lordship said I'm not in a position to take up this matter now please put it before the Chief Justice.”
On the indictment by CJI P Sathasivam
“I agree with you that it is an indictment but it is not a correct indictment. Whatever he has said is unfortunately incorrect in the sense that this matter was mentioned before me because there was no interim order. At the same time there was an order to pay the amount of Rs 100 cr as fine, but I did not pass any interim order or any order after a certain stage.”
“I have been wrongly indicted by the CJI. I owe an apology.”
“I'm going to take some kind of action if this quote turns out to be true. As soon as I saw the news item in the morning I spoke to Chief Justice and he said, I had never said this. I also asked Justice Gogoi, who is a partner on this bench, he said certainly not. I've requested the judges to give me it in writing. If necessary I will take it up with the Times of India.”
On Prashant Bhushan
“I do have enemies; Prashant Bhushan is one of them I guess.”
“He has got it all mixed up like he normally does. The media has made him what he is today. I don't know whether you have seen him appearing in any other matter except matters related to Public Interest Litigation. He owes an apology.”
On being targeted
“That's what precisely I'm trying to understand. In fact in my press release, which I wrote immediately after these things came out, I was trying to keep quiet, but when that front-page news appeared on Indian Express and then in the TOI...I'm being targeted may be because I'm no longer having control. I'm certainly being targeted by certain sections. But I think you should get a response from the members of the bar in general.”
“It looks like it that I am being targeted by certain sections of the media. The Times of India story is motivated.”
On corruption in judiciary
“At Supreme Court level I don’t think so. The corruption issue in judiciary is exaggerated.”
On the collegium system for selecting SC judges
“I wish that Justice Verma had said these things when he was in office. The collegium system is the best that we have under the circumstances.”