The petition will be examined by the Apex Court of India on April 27. He urged the CJI to set up a Bench of seven or more seniormost judges to take up the issue of government's abuse of power by sitting over the collegium's recommendations.
With the Supreme Court in throes of a controversy yet again, Congress on Thursday said the judiciary was at its nadir and asserted that the option to impeach the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is "still open".
Rejecting a plea for guidelines on the setting up of benches and allocation of work to judges, the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also said there can not be a "presumption of mistrust" against the CJI. "If you have any other suggestion, do let us know", it told senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Bhushan.
Stating that the matter presented "a threat to the very life and existence of the institution", Justice Joseph recalled that when Calcutta HC's Justice C S Karnan started misbehaving with the SC and other HC judges, then CJI J S Justice Josephar had called a full court meeting and it was decided that the errant judge would be tackled on the judicial side.
The PIL was filed by an Ashok Pande seeking guidelines for the Supreme Court and all the high courts on the allocation of cases and the setting up of benches.
On January 12, these judges had held a news conference and insinuated that Chief Justice Misra was allocating key cases to handpicked benches to try and influence outcomes. The CJI should not be left with absolute discretion in such cases which should be allocated by collegium of five judges.
"This court is the bedrock of the Constitution", he said, adding that the registry should follow the Supreme Court rules stipulating the procedure for listing of cases. Justice Sikri pointed out that it was for the objective of appointment and transfer and has nothing to do with the CJI's administrative power in allocation of cases. "I am more anxious about the irreparable injury that is being caused by the wrong message sent to the judges down the line", Justice Joseph said. The case was referred to a junior judge.
"The ultimate goal behind the entrustment of authority to the Chief Justice is to ensure that the Supreme Court is able to fulfil and discharge the constitutional obligations which govern and provide the rationale for its existence", it said. The issues, which were raised by the four Supreme Court judges, have not been addressed yet.
Justice Sikri said the bar was an equal partner in upholding the rule of law. "If it can not be done administratively or judicially, then this will be the only provision in the Constitution which can not be challenged", he said, adding "it is unacceptable".
To this, Justice Sikri said, "We will retire, but you are a permanent fixture". He answered in the affirmative when the court asked both him and the AG to assist it.