News

Virtual revolt by 4 SC judges against
CJI, say democracy atstake

2018-01-12

 

Supreme Court Judges Kurian Joseph, J.Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan Lokur address the media shortly Delhi (names in order of seating).

PTI

New Delhi, Jan 12 :  Four senior judges of the SupremeCourt today mounted a virtual revolt against the chiefjustice, listing a litany of problems that they said areafflicting the country's highest court and warned they coulddestroy Indian democracy.

The unprecedented move at a joint news conference by thefour judges including Justice J Chelameswar, the second seniorjudge after the Chief Justice of India, left the judiciary andobservers stunned, leaving uncertain how this open dissensionin the hallowed institution would be resolved.

Justice Chelameswar himself described as an"extraordinary event" the news conference during which he said"sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in orderand many things which are less than desirable have happened inthe last few months."

Unless this institution is preserved, "democracy willnot survive" in this country, Chelameswar said in theunscheduled press conference, in the first of its kind eventin independent India.

In a scathing criticism and unvarnished self-reflectionof the Supreme Court, Chelameswar, who was accompanied byJustices RanjanGogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph at thepress conference, said they had met Chief Justice Dipak Misrathis morning and "raised issues affecting the institution".

"Unless this institution is preserved, democracy willnot survive in this country," Justice Chelameswar said, addingthat it was "extremly painful" to hold the press conference insuch a manner. The press conference was held at Chelameswar'sresidence.

He said all the four judges "failed to persuade CJIthat certain things are not in order and therefore you shouldtake remedial measures. Unfortunately our efforts failed.

"And all four of us are convinced that democracy is atstake and many things have happened in recent past," he said.

Asked what these issues were, he said they includedthe "allocation of cases by CJI". The remarks assume \significance as the Supreme Court today took up forconsideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of specialCBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the sensitive SohrabuddinSheikh encounter case.

Justice Chelameswar said "we owe a responsibility tothe institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed inconvincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution."

"This is an extraordinary event in the history of anynation, more particularly this nation and an extraordinaryevent in the institution of judiciary ... It is with nopleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference.

But sometimes adminstration of the Supreme Court is not inorder and many things which are less than desirable havehappened in the last few months," he said.

The four judges, in their seven-page letter to the CJIthat was released to the press, said, "It is too well settledin the jurisprudence of this country that the chief justice isonly first amongst the equals -- nothing more or nothingless."

At the news conference, all the judges rubbishedquestions on whether they have broken ranks and said that theywill start doing things which they do.

Justice Gogoi said "nobody is breaking the rank and itis discharge of debt to nation which we have done."

Gogoi, who would be succeeding Misra as CJI in Octoberthis year, said that, "it's a discharge of debt to the nationwhich we have done."

Asked whether they wanted the Chief Justice to beimpeached, Justice Chelameswar said, "let the nation decide."

Soon after the press conference ended, the CJI calledAttorney General K KVenugopal for a meeting, court sourcessaid.

Highly placed government sources said the issues raisedby the four judges are an "internal" matter of the judiciary,indicating that the government is unlikely to interfere.

However, the sources also added that the apex courtshould settle the issue at the earliest as the faith of thepeople in the judiciary is at stake.

"It is a sad day for the judicial system," said Congressleader Ashwani Kumar, who is also a senior advocate.

 

Opp sees "danger" in judges revolt, wants issues flagged by them resolved

New Delhi, Jan 12 : The Congress today said democracy was in "danger", while the CPI(M) called for a thorough probe, after four top Supreme Court judges came out in the open to claim the situation in the apex court was "not in order".

"We are very concerned to hear 4 judges of the Supreme Court expressed concerns about the functioning of the Supreme  Court. #DemocracyInDanger," the Congress' official Twitter  handle said.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said a thorough  investigation was required to understand how the independence  and integrity of the judiciary was getting "affected", after  the judges said many "less than desirable" things had taken place in the apex court.

He said it was necessary for the three wings of democracy  to ensure that whatever issues had been raised were corrected.

"This merits a thorough, proper investigation and  understanding of how independence and integrity of judiciary  is being interfered or is being affected, which is impermissible in a secular democratic republic," Yechury said.

"It is necessary for all three wings of our democracy-- the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary--to ensure that whatever has been raised is corrected," he added.

Speaking to PTI, former Union law minister and Congress leader Ashwani Kumar said it was a "sad day" in the history of India that judges were "compelled" to bring in public domain the happenings in the top court.

He also called for a collective resolve to address the issues flagged by the judges "instead of finding fault with what they have said".

"The expressed and implicit anguish in the exceptional and extraordinary step take by the judges has a message in itself. A time has come for the nation to debate the larger issues that squarely arise from the communication released by the judges to the press.

"...I hope that the honourable CJI and all those concerned will take urgent remedial measures," the Congress leader said.

Four senior judges of the Supreme Court today virtually revolted against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, listing a string of problems that they said were afflicting the country's highest court, and warned those could destroy Indian democracy.

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