CJI may meet rebel judges in bid to min­imise dam­age

BCI of­fers to me­di­ate, forms seven- mem­ber del­e­ga­tion

The Asian Age - - Front Page - J. VENKATESAN

A day af­ter four Supreme Court judges took the un­prece­dented step of air­ing their dif­fer­ences with Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra in pub­lic, the le­gal fra­ter­nity came to­gether to con­trol the dam­age and mend re­la­tions be­tween the coun­try’s five se­nior- most brother judges.

The Bar Coun­cil of In­dia ( BCI), a statu­tory body which reg­u­lates le­gal prac­tice and le­gal ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia, formed a seven- mem­ber del­e­ga­tion which will meet the five judges and try to re­solve the is­sue.

Amidst in­di­ca­tions that CJI Misra may meet the four rebel judges — J. Che­lameswar, Ran­jan Go­goi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — on Sun­day or Mon­day to set­tle the dif­fer­ences, BCI chair­per­son Manan Ku­mar Mishra told the me­dia here, “We have unan­i­mously de­cided to form a seven- mem­ber del­e­ga­tion of the coun­cil who will meet hon­ourable judges of the Supreme Court. We want that the mat­ter be solved at the ear­li­est. We have got ap­point­ment from 23 judges. We want this mat­ter to be solved ear­li­est.”

Ex­press­ing anguish over the turn of events, Mr Mishra said, “We have given an op­por­tu­nity to Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and other po­lit­i­cal par­ties to com­ment on the ju­di­ciary. This is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous. We re­quest the po­lit­i­cal class to re­frain from com­ment­ing on this is­sue. We do not want the ju­di­ciary’s im­age to be tar­nished. Peo­ple have un­flinch­ing faith in the ju­di­ciary.”

Talk­ing about the dif­fer­ences be­tween the CJI and the four judges on fi­nal­is­ing the Mem­o­ran­dum of Pro­ce­dure re­lat­ing to judges’ ap­point­ment, Mr Mishra said, “MoP must be fi­nalised at the ear­li­est. Judges have been ap­pointed through col­legium. This is not an is­sue that must be taken to the pub­lic. We re­quest the judges not to give an op­por­tu­nity for such an in­ci­dent to oc­cur again.”

To­gether, the CJI and the four judges form the Supreme Court col­legium, the high­est de­ci­sion- mak­ing body of the ju­di­ciary.

On Fri­day, the four top judges of the Supreme Court had held a press con­fer­ence dur­ing which they ques­tioned the con­duct of the CJI, es­pe­cially over the al­lo­ca­tion of cases. The judges said they had failed to per­suade CJI Misra that cer­tain things are not in or­der, and left it to the peo­ple to pro­tect the ju­di­ciary. They warned that democ­racy was un­der threat.

“We tried to per­suade the CJI that cer­tain things

This is not an is­sue that re­quires me­di­a­tion from out­side. This is an in­ter­nal is­sue of the in­sti­tu­tion and the in­sti­tu­tion will sort it out. — Kurian Joseph,

SC judge

are not in or­der. Un­for­tu­nately, the ef­forts failed. We are con­vinced that un­less cor­rec­tive steps are taken im­me­di­ately, the ju­di­ciary will lose its strong and in­de­pen­dent tag, which is an es­sen­tial hall­mark of democ­racy,” they had said.

Talk­ing separately on Satur­day, Jus­tice Kurian and Jus­tice Go­goi as­serted that there was no con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis in the apex court. Jus­tice Kurian also stressed that the is­sues they had raised re­quired no ex­ter­nal in­ter­ven­tion and would be re­solved by the ju­di­ciary it­self.

“This is not an is­sue that re­quires me­di­a­tion from out­side. This is an in­ter­nal is­sue of the in­sti­tu­tion and the in­sti­tu­tion will sort it out. A cor­rec­tion in­side the in­sti­tu­tion is what is re­quired,” Jus­tice Joseph said in Kochi, while main­tain­ing that the four judges had acted solely in the in­ter­est of ju­di­ciary and jus­tice.

Ex­cept Jus­tice Che­lameswar, the other three judges are out of sta­tion and are ex­pected to re­turn to the cap­i­tal by Sun­day evening. Their meet­ing with the CJI is, thus, likely on Mon­day. One of the four judges told this cor­re­spon­dent that “so far noth­ing has been told to any one of us”.

On Satur­day morn­ing, at­tor­ney gen­eral K. K. Venu­gopal told a tele­vi­sion chan­nel that by Mon­day morn­ing lit­i­gants and lawyers would see unity among the Supreme Court judges as a solution would be found by then.

Mean­while, on Satur­day, TV vi­su­als show­ing Prime Min­is­ter’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Nripen­dra Misra turn­ing up at the res­i­dence of the CJI led to spec­u­la­tion about the pur­pose of the meet­ing and sparked a po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy.

Sources main­tained that he had gone to meet the CJI to wish him for the New Year and the CJI shift­ing to the of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Kr­ishna Me­mon Marg, but could not meet the CJI who was busy in his morn­ing sched­ule.

The Congress, how­ever, said Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi must an­swer as to why a “spe­cial mes­sen­ger” was sent to meet the CJI. The TV vi­su­als Nripen­dra Misra driv­ing to the CJI’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence. How­ever, the gates were not opened and af­ter wait­ing for a while, the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary to the PM was seen driv­ing back.

The Supreme Court Bar As­so­ci­a­tion ( SCBA) also met on Satur­day and ex­pressed “grave con­cern” over the dif­fer­ences be­tween the se­nior judges and CJI, while also tak­ing note of con­cerns raised by the four se­nior judges.

DMK work­ing pres­i­dent M. K. Stalin called for Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind’s in­ter­ven­tion.

— PTI

Supreme Court Bar As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Vikas Singh ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence in New Delhi on Satur­day.

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