A huge shock came for the Indian democracy when four senior Supreme Court judges held an unprecedented press conference on Friday where they alleged that the administration of the top court is not in order and chief justice of India Dipak Misra had overlooked their suggestions to take corrective steps on several matters. The press conference by Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph emerges to have thrown a light on an increasing split between senior justices and chief justice Misra.
The CJI and four justices are part of the Supreme Court collegium, which selects judges to the top court and high courts. The Justice Chelameswar said, “This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation, and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary … It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference. But 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.” “We tried to persuade the CJI to take steps but failed. Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in this country,” added Chelameswar. The second-most senior judge in the Supreme Court following the CJI, Justice Chelameswar, added that the four had met chief justice Misra with a “specific request” but were unable to convince them.
“We were left with no choice except to communicate it to the nation that please take care of the institution…Don’t want people to say 20 years later that we did not take care of the institution,” said justice Chelameswar. A letter has also been released by the judges questing issues such as justice delivery system and allocation of cases. “There is an issue of assignment of a case which is raised in that letter (to the CJI),” said justice Gogoi. When asked if it is about special CBI judge BH Loya, he said, “Yes.” The comments assume importance as the top court today took up for consideration petitions asking for an independent probe into the death of judge Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case of 2004 in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah are named as parties.
“There have been instances where a case having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by Chief Justice of this court selectively to benches without rationale basis. This must be guarded against at all costs. We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent,” says the letter by the judges. “It’s a discharge of debt to the nation which we have done,” said Justice Gogoi, who will be succeeding chief justice Misra in October.