New Delhi, Jan 12: In an unprecedented move, four senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday held a press conference accusing Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra of not strictly adhering to rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches. The four judges — Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph — released an undated seven-page letter they wrote to the Justice Dipak Misra in which they conceded that the Chief Justice was the master of roster but this was “not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues”.

“It is with no pleasure that we have been compelled to do this. Administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Many things less than desirable have happened in the last few months. We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. We tried to collectively persuade the Chief Justice that certain things are not in order and remedial measures are necessary. Unfortunately, our efforts have failed in convincing the Chief Justice of India to take steps to protect this institution,” Justice Chelameswar said at the hurriedly called press conference.

Here are the top quotes from the Supreme Court judges’ letter to CJI Dipak Misra:

  • “There have been instances where cases having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of this court selectively to the benches ‘of their preference’ without any rational basis.”
  • “We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged this institution to some extent.”
  • “The convention of recognising the privilege of the Chief Justice to form the roster and assign cases to different members/benches of the Court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transaction of the business of the Court but not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues.”
  • “The Chief Justice is only the first among the equals – nothing more, nothing less”.

The clash among the top Supreme Court judges also comes in the wake of a controversial order in November in which CJI Dipak Misra declared that the Chief Justice “is the master of the roster” having exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge.