Probing CJI Gogoi ‘Conspiracy’, Not Harassment Claim: AK Patnaik
“My probe is limited to Utsav Bains’ affidavit; independent of sexual harassment complaint,” said Justice Patnaik.
“I will begin the probe into the affidavit filed by lawyer Utsav Bains in the Supreme Court (SC). My probe will be limited to his affidavit only. It will be totally independent of the sexual harassment complaint [against the CJI],” said former SC Justice (Retd) AK Patnaik to The Quint.
The Supreme Court on 25 April 2019 constituted a one-man panel with former apex court judge, Justice (Retd) AK Patnaik, to hold an inquiry into the allegations raised by Bains of a “larger conspiracy” to frame the CJI in a sexual harassment case.
The conspiracy is allegedly at the behest of an important corporate figure, in collusion with judgment ‘fixers’ and disgruntled employees of the court. It also directed the Directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with Justice Patnaik’s inquiry.
Justice Patnaik had previously said that he will begin the inquiry into Bains’ complaint only after the in-house committee had decided the sexual harassment complaint. On 6 May, the in-house committee gave a clean chit to CJI Gogoi. Hence, Justice Patnaik will now begin the probe.
The Quint has learnt from sources that Bains has mentioned several names in his affidavits to the court, who were allegedly involved in the conspiracy against the CJI. Justice (Retd) Patnaik is likely to first determine the details about the people, events, locations, etc, mentioned in the affidavit and then question Bains to get more information and evidence, said sources.
What Has Bains Alleged?
Bains claimed in his affidavit on 22 April that he was “offered a bribe to help frame CJI (Chief Justice of India) in the sexual harassment case”. He was offered Rs 50 lakh by an agent as legal fees to take up the sexual harassment case against the CJI. It is not clear who offered Bains the money.
Bains claims that when he refused to represent the complainant, he was offered Rs 1.5 crore.
Furthermore, in the affidavit, Bains has claimed,
- A conspiracy has been hatched by a “corporate figure who tried to approach an Hon’ble Supreme Court judge to get a favourable order in a high-profile case listed before this Hon’ble Court but was unsuccessful”.
- The unnamed ‘corporate figure’ roped in an alleged fixer by the name of Romesh Sharma, who then “ganged up with disgruntled employees and former employees of the Supreme Court” to carry out the conspiracy.
- In paragraph 20 of his affidavit, Bains claims that he is “privy to certain events involving the said corporate figure and will submit in a sealed cover the events and lists of the involved persons” to the apex court if asked.
- Bains also claims that Romesh Sharma and his judgment fixer gang were already upset over how CJI Gogoi had cracked down on their racket after becoming CJI in October 2018.
- Bains also alleges connections between Romesh Sharma, Jet Airways owner Naresh Goyal, and fugitive terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, without any evidence or even a claim that has evidence to this end.
In an interview to The Quint earlier, Bains said:
“If anyone in this universe can prove that I have any relation with the kin of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, I would accept the punishment to be hanged outside the Supreme Court for lying through the teeth and would also leave my legal practice.”
He said this when asked about allegations by a few lawyers about his proximity to the CJI’s relatives.
Questions were also raised by the legal fraternity about why Bains was approached for a sexual harassment case against the CJI, when there are several more senior lawyers in the SC who would have defended the complainant pro bono.
Senior SC lawyers told The Quint that no one has ever seen Bains arguing a case in the apex court. Then why was he handpicked to represent the complainant of alleged sexual harassment? Not just that, but who was ready to offer Bains Rs 1.5 crore to defend the complainant?
“The person who approached me (with Rs 1.5 crore) said that he had seen me on TV debates and spoke about my work in the Asaram Bapu case. So probably that made him come to me.”
Utsav Bains, Complainant
The Quint has also learnt from sources that Justice (Retd) Patnaik will not look into the in-house committee’s report on the sexual harassment complaint against the CJI, which had said the allegations were “unsubstantiated”.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.