SC notice to lawyer who was \'offerred money to frame CJI for harassment\'

The top court bench has now fixed case for hearing on Wednesday at 10:30 am.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday sought response from a lawyer, who had made a sensational claim that there was a conspiracy to make CJI Ranjan Gogoi resign by "framing him" in a false case of sexual harassment.

A three-judge special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra issued notice to lawyer Utsav Singh Bains and sought his response with regard to his claim that he was also offered Rs 1.5 crore to represent a former apex court woman employee and arrange a presser against the CJI at the Press Club of India here. The bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta, has now fixed the case titled as a matter of "great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary", for hearing tomorrow at 10:30 am.

The lawyer had filed an affidavit on Monday following the unprecedented hearing on Saturday during which the CJI had said a larger conspiracy was behind it and that he would not stoop too low even to deny these allegations. Bains has said, in his affidavit, that he was shocked to hear the allegations and was willing to represent the complainant.

"But when the said Ajay further narrated the entire sequence of events and facts of the case, the Deponent was not convinced and found several loopholes in the said Ajay's version of events," the affidavit has said.

The lawyer then sought an interaction with the complainant to verify the claims, it has said, adding the meeting was denied which gave rise to the suspicion. "That, when the Deponent outright refused the said bribe of Rs 50 lakh offered by the said Ajay to frame the CJI, the said Ajay then increased the sum to Rs 1.5 crore to the Deponent following which the Deponent asked him to immediately leave his office," the affidavit has said.

"The Deponent was informed by reliable sources that certain 'Fixers', who claim to be engaged in illegally managing judgements in exchange for cash are behind this plot as the CJI has taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers," the affidavit has claimed.

In the hurriedly called hearing on Saturday after the allegations had cropped up, the apex court had said independence of judiciary was under "very serious threat" and "unscrupulous allegations" of sexual harassment have been levelled against the Chief Justice of India as some "bigger force" wanted to "deactivate" the office of the CJI.

The "unusual and extraordinary" hearing was held after stories were published on some news portals on the allegations made by an ex-employee of the apex court against the CJI.

The former employee has described two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, only days after he was appointed as the CJI, and her subsequent persecution. According to reports, the woman alleged that she was removed from service after she rebuffed his advances.

She claimed that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables, were suspended for a 2012 criminal case that had been mutually resolved. She was later made to prostrate before Justice Gogoi's wife and made to rub her nose at her feet in the chief justice's residence, she alleged, adding that her disabled brother-in-law was removed from service at the Supreme Court.

The woman also alleged that she was detained at a police station along with her husband and other relatives and they were subjected to physical and verbal abuse in a case of cheating against her.

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