New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Justice Ananga Kumar Patnaik will probe the alleged conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case. The court has asked the chiefs of CBI, Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police to assist in the probe.
Justice Patnaik was in the news last year for monitoring the Cental Vigilance Commission (CVC) investigation into allegations and counter-allegations of bribery and corruption against former CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
Justice Patnaik, one of the most outspoken judges of the apex court, was appointed to the Supreme Court in November 2009 and retired in June 2014.
In a harsh attack on the Collegium system for the appointment and transfer of judges, Justice Patnaik had in 2014 raised serious concerns about the way judges were appointed and called it a “give and take” policy.
He had then claimed that he too was a “victim of the collegium system”. In an interview, Justice Patnaik had said, “Many competent persons have often been ignored and those who were close to members of the SC Collegium were chosen because there was no objective assessment whatsoever while making the selections.”
It’s not for the first time that Justice Patnaik will head a committee to look into allegations against the well-placed.
He was a member of the "In-House Committee" to probe allegations made against Justice Soumitra Sen while an impeachment motion was moved against him.
The committee concluded that Sen was guilty of misconduct, which was so serious that it called for initiation of proceedings for his removal. The Rajya Sabha accepted the motion of impeachment against Sen and he resigned ahead of a similar impeachment motion against him in the Lok Sabha.
Justice Patnaik was elevated to the Supreme Court after serving as the High Court Chief Justice for almost five years, which figures among one of the longest tenures served by a judge as a High Court Chief Justice before being appointed to the apex court.
One of the suggestions made by the government in the Memorandum of Procedure [MoP] for appointment of judges was that if the senior-most Chief Justice of a High Court is not being considered, the reasons for the rejection should be recorded.
In April 2018, Justice Chelameswar, now retired, addressed a question on the delay in appointing Justice Patnaik to the Supreme Court, stating that “more transparency” and “record of meetings” needed to be maintained in appointment of judges to the apex court.
It was Justice Patnaik, who along with SJ Mukhopadhyaya in 2014, ruled that lawmakers could be disqualified if they have been convicted of a criminal offence.
The bench struck down as ultra vires section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), which protected MPs, MLAs and other legislators in their posts if they had appealed their criminal convictions in a higher court. He also headed the bench on the illegal iron ore mining case.
In 2012, Justice Patnaik became part of a special two-judge bench set up by then CJI SH Kapadia for hearing all cases arising out of the 2G spectrum case.