WHAT OTHERS SAY
JUDICIARY IN TURMOIL
It is a development that is both momentous and unfortunate. The press conference held by four senior judges of the Supreme Court has exposed an unprecedented level of dissension in the top echelons of the judiciary. It is regrettable that the banner of revolt has been raised in such a public way against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. Regardless of who is right in the current dispute over the administrative functioning of the CJI, the reverberations of what took place on Friday will not easily subside and will be felt for a long time to come. There was ample evidence over the last few months that the highest court was in a state of ferment; the question is whether it could have been handled internally rather than be dragged into the open like this. Although Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — the seniormost judges after the CJI — did not reveal too many details, it is clear that their grievances are rooted in their perception that Justice Misra is misusing his administrative powers to assign cases “selectively”, disregarding conventions on allocation of judicial work. They have added for good measure that cases with far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution are being assigned to junior judges and Benches “of their preferences”, a suggestion that is being read by some as an ominous reference to an unknown external hand. It ought to be underscored here that the Chief Justice is indeed the master of the roster; even the four judges concede THAT THIS IS A WELL-SETTLED LAW, ONE THAT IS RELECTED IN A CONSTITUTION Bench judgment in 1998.