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Father steps up in Bhushan contempt case, claims half of 16 former CJIs were ‘definitely corrupt’

Former law minister Shanti Bhushan said that at least eight of the last 16 Chief Justices of India (CJI) were “definitely corrupt” in his defiant defence in the contempt proceedings brought against his son Prashanth Bhushan who had given an interview to national magazine Tehelka on September 5 2009 making the same allegation.

The elder Bhushan made the statement in his application filed yesterday to implead himself in the contempt proceedings against his son, also filing a sealed envelope of the names of 16 former chief justices, eight of whom were “definitely corrupt”, six of whom he claimed were “definitely honest”, and two of whom “a definite opinion cannot be expressed whether they were honest or currupt”, reported the Indian Express and other papers.

In December 2009 Prashanth Bhushan filed an affidavit defending himself against the contempt proceedings that were brought by senior counsel Harish Salve volunteering as amicus curiae. Prashanth Bhushan also alleged that Salve had repeatedly misused his position as amicus curiae amounting to professional misconduct. The editor-in-chief of Tehelka, Taru Tejpal, has also been served with notice in the contempt proceedings.

In his 2009 interview with Tehelka, Prashanth Bhushan said that: “In my view, out of the last 16 to 17 Chief Justices, half have been corrupt. I can’t prove this, though we had evidence against Punchhi, Anand, and Sabharwal on the basis of which we sought their impeachment.”

Prashanth Bhushan stated in his affidavit that said section of the interview “could have been better phrased, but, by the word corrupt, I meant, ‘of doubtful integrity’.”

“The second part of the interview relied upon is my answer to the question as to whether there were other ways in which judicial corruption manifests itself. In response to which I had said: ‘There are so many---‘. Here again, when I said, ‘There are so many’, it was only with reference to non financial behaviour, or other kinds of conflict of interest or misconduct by judges. It is in this context that my answer to the question should be understood,” continued the affidavit.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani was instructed to defend Bhushan in the case and argued that the contempt proceedings should not proceed as there was a serious risk that it would give the impression of being issued solely for suppressing uncomfortable facts about the judiciary.

Yesterday Prashanth Bushan’s father, who was India’s law minister between 1977 and 1979, said that he too should be jailed for contempt after repeating a slightly toned-down version of his son’s claims about the CJIs.

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