Judges revolt against Chief Justice, government to not intervene
Four Supreme Court judges mount virtual revolt against the Chief Justice of India, raise questions on 'selective' case allocation and certain judicial orders
Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar alongwith Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph during their press conference in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI
Warning that democracy is at stake, four senior judges of the Supreme Court yesterday mounted a virtual revolt against the country's chief justice, raising questions on "selective" case allocation and certain judicial orders, sending shockwaves across the judiciary and polity.
The unprecedented move by the four judges including Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior judge after Chief Justice Dipak Misra, brought to fore the simmering differences between the country's top judge and some senior judges in the apex court in recent months. The apex court currently has 25 judges.
Justice Chelameswar himself described as an "extraordinary event" in the annals of the Indian judiciary when the judges addressed a joint news conference during which he said "sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months." Justice Chelameswar accused Justice Misra of not taking any"remedial measures" on some of the issues which affected the functioning ofthe SC that they had raised.
'Preserve the Supreme Court'
Unless this institution is preserved, "democracy will not survive" in this country, Justice Chelameswar said at the unscheduled press conference, in the first of its kind event in independent India.
Chelameswar, who was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said they had met the chief justice yesterday morning and "raised issues affecting the institution." The CJI and the four judges comprise the SC collegium that selects judges for the higher judiciary.
He said the four judges "failed to persuade CJI that certain things are not in order and therefore he should take remedial measures. Unfortunately our efforts failed. And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in recent past." Asked what these issues were, he said they included the "allocation of cases by CJI". The remarks assume significance as the apex court earlier in the day took up for consideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh 'fake encounter' case.
Justice Chelameswar said 'we owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution." There was no immediate official response from the CJI office. Asked if they wanted the CJI to be impeached, the Justice said, "let the nation decide."
Government not to intervene
The government yesterday made it clear that it was not going to intervene in the issue.
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