New Delhi: What to make of this unprecedented happening? Four of the most senior judges of Supreme court holding a press conference and making complains – almost allegations – against the Chief Justice of India, who they say is only first among equals,not their ‘superior’.
Many observors, aghast at the happening are opining that this is the back bone of the Indian judicial system being broken.
“The collegium” they say ” is as as good as dead.”
Today being Friday, it was a miscellaneous cases day. It is a day when only cases coming up from High Courts are heard. The 4 judges, were in court in the morning attending to various cases in their respective courts.
At 11.30 a.m. they rose up, excused themselves and walked out. They then all drove to Justice Chellameshwaram’s official residence on Tughlaq road where the shocking press conference was held.
There are several factors which make this situation very alarming and tragic for the country.
These four judges along with the CJI form the Collegium, which selects other judges of S.C. and Chief Justices of various states of the country.
Thus the entire collegium, SC judges Kurian Joseph, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan Lokur were there except for CJI Deepak Mishra. This in a way was the Collegium itself expressing lack of confidence in the Chief Justice.
Despite this, the CJI is not expected to resign, though many SC lawyers would opine that this would be the honourable thing to do.
Because if he resigns, Chellameshwar would become the next Chief Justice and this is something, the present CJI – and Modi Govt? – would not want.
Another judge present at the press conference, Justice Gogoi, is slated to be the CJI in October when Justice Mishra retires.
Indians, till now have had the re assuring feeling that however bad the situation of the country might get, the judiciary is there. It is an independent and very strong pillar of our Democracy and it will safeguard our rights as enshrined in our constitution.
But when the top 4 – of the 5 – of country’s judges express helplessness, complain that ‘ their voice is not being heard’ who should the people now look to?
The most serious point in the 4 judges grievance is that the CJI, who manages the roster ( allocation of cases before the SC) is allocating all the significant cases to ‘junior’ judges, by passing the courts of these 4 judges. Two favourite judges in fact are named ( by lawyers) as Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra.
Cases like the Ayodhya case, the Aadhaar case are being postponed continually instead of a decision being taken. (The suspicion is that come March 2018, the CJI will say compliance to Aadhar is now fait accompli, so there is no case left).
Secondly, meetings held to decide on appointments are conducted by the CJI, he decides on the minutes to be written, so tomorrow if allegations of ‘wrong people being appointed’ are made, these 4 judges would appear equally guilty.
Will the chief justice be impeached or will these 4 judges be ‘asked’ to step down?
The bugle of mutiny against the CJI has been sounded – how will the Govt. act now? Will it side with the CJI or the senior judges and 4/5th of the collegium?
This, will make matters more crystal clear as to why things came to such a sorry pass.
Just read the last 3 paragraphs of the judges’ missive and the sorry state of affairs in our highest court can be seen:
Any issue with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure should be discussed in the Chief Justices’ conference and by the Full Court. Such a matter of great importance, if at all required to be taken on the judicial side, should be dealt with by none other than a Constitution Bench.
The above development must be viewed with serious concern. The Honourable Chief Justice of India is duty bound to rectify the situation and take appropriate remedial measures after a full discussion with the other members of the collegium and at a later stage, if required, with other Honourable Judges of this court.
Once the issue arising from the order dates 27th October, 2017, in R P Luthra vs Union of India, mentioned above, is adequately addressed by you and if it becomes so necessary, we will apprise you specifically of the other judicial orders passed by this court which would require to be similarly dealt with.
With kind regards,
Madam B Lokur
(p.s. the CJI is about to hold his own press conference now)