New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Monday informed the Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that he and other 24 Judges of the Supreme Court have decided to contribute to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Flood Relief Fund.
The CJI gave this information during the course of hearing of a petition in which the issue of Kerala floods came up for discussion. Earlier AG brought up the issue of Kerala floods and the devastation caused by the same. He said people have lost their lives and houses. It will take years to rebuild the houses.
The AG suggested that the fine to be imposed by the court could be directed to be deposited to the Flood Relief Fund, for which the CJI readily agreed and said “we are also making contributions.”
Sources told this newspaper that each judge will donate a minimum of `25,000 to the CM's Relief Fund and the maximum amount is left to the discretion of each judge.
The court was hearing an application alleging conflict of interest on the part of CJI Dipak Misra in taking up a public interest writ petition seeking a ban on advocates who are MPs/MLAs from practising in courts. The Bench headed by the CJI had already reserved verdict in the matter and Bharatiya Matdata Sangatha as an intervener filed a fresh application.
The application alleged that Senior Advocate Pinaki Misra, who is a cousin of CJI Dipak Misra is a practising lawyer as well as a Member of Parliament. It was alleged that Pinaki Mishra has the power of voting on the impeachment of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. Therefore, allowing him to practice as an Advocate in the Supreme Court and High Courts is a very serious conflict of interest.
The Bench, which included Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrfachud, took strong exception to the insinuation made by the NGO represented by a lawyer. The AG suggested strong measures to be taken against the intervenor organization as the application has been filed after judgment has been reserved. This amounts to contempt of court, he added. The fine amount could go towards flood relief in Kerala.
Justice Chandrachud expressing his anguish over the insinuation observed, “Thers is this trend of making allegations against judges. This has to stop. If you want to make allegations do so but we will deal with it. That message has to go out. He wanted imposition of Rs. 25 lakhs as fine but the lawyer said he could afford to pay only Rs. one lakh.
The General Secretary of the organization tendered a written apology admitting that it was a grave mistake on his part. Senior counsel Shekar Naphade, suggested to the court to impose a fine on the applicant. At this juncture, the AG said the fine that could be imposed could be directed to be deposited to Kerala flood relief. The court directed the NGO to file an affidavit expressing unconditional apology and the amount that could be imposed as fine. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 27.