New Delhi, Jan 12: Four senior judges of the Supreme Court today took on the functioning of the apex court alleging irregularities and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for being unresponsive to their requests. The unprecedented move at a joint news conference by the four top judges brought turmoil in the Supreme Court leaving the judiciary and observers stunned. The judges included Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior judge after the Chief Justice of India.
Speaking to the media, the judges released an undated letter in which they had admitted that the Chief Justice Dipak Misra was the master of the roster but this was “not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues”. The judges – Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, Madan B. Lokur and Justice Chelameswar – also alleged that the Supreme Court administration was “not in order”.
On the allegations and differences within the judiciary, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal told ANI, “Today’s press conference could have been avoided, but the Supreme Court judges are all statesman with vast experience and knowledge, and I am sure by tomorrow, the entire issue would be resolved.” (Also Read: ‘Chief Justice First Among Equals’: Top Quotes From Supreme Court Judges’ Letter to CJI)
* Senior judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference at the residence of Justice J. Chelameswar accepting that the move was highly unusual.
“It (press conference) is an extraordinary event in the history of the judiciary and more particularly in this nation, even for this institution (Supreme Court). It is with no pleasure that we have been compelled to do this…We are left with no choice but to address the nation,” said Judge Chelameswar.
* The judges alleged that there were irregularities within the working of the top court and the CBI not being responsive to the requests that have been made several times.
* Unless this institution is preserved, the “democracy will not survive” in this country. Unfortunately, Chelameswar said, the efforts have failed in convincing the Chief Justice of India to take steps to protect this institution.
“And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in recent past,” he said.
* On being asked about the “less than desirable have happened in the last few months” is a reference of seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Special CBI Judge Brijgopal Loya, Justice Gogoi said, “Yes.”
* The main issues that the senior judges pointed out included: (a) Not assigning cases to appropriate benches, (b) A PIL seeking Judge BM Loya’s mysterious death was assigned to court no. 10 and not to any of the first four benches.
* The judges claimed that they had sent a seven-page letter to the CJI but have not received a response to it.
“We collectively tried to persuade the CJI that certain things aren’t in order so take remedial measures but unfortunately our efforts failed,” said Justice Chelameswar.
* When the judges were asked if the CJI should be removed, one of them said, “Let the nation decide on his impeachment.”
* The government sources said that the judges should resolve the issues as the faith of the people in the judiciary is at stake.
* The Congress party took to social media and said, “We are very concerned to hear 4 judges of the Supreme Court expressed concerns about the functioning of the Supreme Court. #DemocracyInDanger.”
The press conference of the senior Supreme Court judges comes in the wake of a controversial order by CJI Dipak Misra, passed in November. The order declared that the Chief Justice “is the master of the roster” having exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge.