SC judges take on CJI

Trevor Jackson
January 14, 2018

Chief Justice (CJI) Deepak Misra was indeed the subject of their protest but the words the judges chose in their press briefing as well as their seven-page letter to CJI eventually released to the press were not slanderous.

The revolt by Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur surfaced in a press conference in which they accused the Chief Justice of not strictly adhering to the rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches, which they said could create "doubts" about the integrity of the top court.

The Congress party stated it was pained over the judges of the Supreme Court expressing concern about its functioning. We don't want people to say 20 yrs later that we did not take care of the institution. It is with no pleasure we come before you but are compelled to do so.

BCI chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra without taking name of any leader, said, "No political party or leader should take undue advantage of the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior Supreme Court judges". The coming up of the PILs in the Supreme Court itself were surprising since there were two separate PILs on Judge Loya in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court and the Bombay High Court itself, and in the latter, the Court had given January 23rd to hear the matter.

Raja, on his part, said he met the judge because he knew him since his student days. One of the judges from Delhi told, "There are several benches in the apex court which have been involved in making money, and the debate around working of such benches does not come out easily". It is time to examine seriously how best to ensure transparency in the process of allocation of cases among the different benches in the Supreme Court of India. Instead of criticising them let us concentrate on the issues raised by them.

In Kochi, Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four judges who had made his differences with the CJI public, said: "These issues are not personal but institutional". At the press conference on Friday, the four judges confirmed they had spoken to the CJI before going public.

The judiciary has always maintained a distance from the press and judges hardly speak to the media on any matter.

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"We collectively tried to persuade CJI that certain things aren't in order so take remedial measures but unfortunately our efforts failed", said Justice Chelameswar.

The writer is a lawyer in the Supreme Court and the High Court.

As the matter on MoP resulted from a decision of the Constitution Bench in 2016, the letter said, "It is hard to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter....any issue with regard to MoP should be discussed in the Chief Justices' Conference and by the Full Court".

"When the judiciary goes for public opinion, it will spell the end of the judiciary", said Santosh Hegde, a former judge.

Some legal luminaries also said the turn of events had raised a question mark about the credibility of the judicial system. Extreme interference of Central Government with Judiciary is risky for democracy, " she added.

Singh said that if required, the SCBA would seek an appointment with the CJI and other judges to talk about the developments which were a matter of grave concern.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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