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Former CJI Kabir denies he had any bias against Gujarat judge

Former CJI Kabir denies he had any bias against Gujarat judge

New Delhi: Former chief justice of India Altamas Kabir Tuesday denied reports that he had junked the elevation of Gujarat High Court's chief Bhaskar Bhattacharya to the apex court because he had objected to the appointment of Kabir's sister as judge of the Calcutta High Court.

The CJI - who demitted office on July 19 - also denied that he had convened the meeting of the apex court collegium July 2 to push through the elevation of a high court chief justice from Madhya Pradesh to the apex court but failed in face of joint resistance by the other four senior most judges.

He also dismissed the innuendoes of "ill motive" imputed to him for the bench headed by him granting more time to Sahara's real estate and finance companies to deposit their instalment to market regulator SEBI even though the matter was being dealt with by the bench of Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan and Justice J.S.Khehar.

The apex court had asked the Sahara group companies to deposit the investors' money that it had mopped up to the market regulator so it could be returned to the investors.

Justice Kabir said that though it was the unanimous decisions of the collegium - comprising five senior most judges of the apex court - not to elevate Bhattacharya but the way the story was presented it gave the "impression that it was my individual bias which prevented the Gujarat Chief Justice from beinhg given berth in the Supreme Court".

Similarly, he said that proposal to elevate a chief justice of a high court hailing from Madhya Pradesh was not something that had cropped up at the July 2 meeting of the collegium suddenly at his instance. He said that the meeting was convened on July 2 because other members had suggested so when he wanted to call a meeting before the apex court went into summer recess.

On the Sahara matter, he said that he gave the company extended time to deposit the second instalment because "we felt that it would be in the interest of the depositors, to extend the time for depositing such instalments by a short period, as that would give them a chance to recover their dues quickly, instead of having to wait till SEBI attached and sold the properties of Sahara which could turn out to be a long drawn affair".

Justice Kabir said he had also sent a letter to Gujarat Chief Justice Bhattacharya stating his position, and forwarded it to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manhmohan Singh.


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