MUTINY IN SC RANKS
Questions raised on ‘selective’ case allocation and certain judicial orders
Discontent simmering for some time came out in the open on Friday when four of the most senior judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference and assailed the functioning of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dipak Misra.
The main allegations related to the opaque workings of the collegium, which selects judges, and flouting of conventions regarding the assigning of cases.
Justice J Chelameswar, second in the Supreme Court hierarchy, flanked by three other judges — Kurian Joseph, Ranjan Gogoi, and Madan Lokur— released a letter sent by them to Chief Justice Misra two months ago. The seven-page letter said rules regarding the composition of Benches and their strength had of late not been strictly adhered to.
“There have been instances where cases having farreaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned selectively to Benches without any rational basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs,” the judges added.
The letter did not disclose specific cases “only to avoid embarrassing the institution but such departures have already damaged the image of the institution to some extent”.
Before releasing the letter,
Justice Chelameswar, in whose sunny lawns the media thronged, said,
“This is an extraordinary event in judicial history; it is not a pleasure but we are compelled as senior judges to inform the nation so that remedial measures can be taken.”
He added that “democracy will not survive otherwise, the hallmark of which is the independence of judiciary”.
Justice J Chelameswar said he, along with the other three judges, met the CJI over the allocation of sensitive cases, including the death of a lower court judge, B H Loya. The judge had died mysteriously while he was hearing the matter of the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Describing how efforts to set things right in a meeting with the Chief Justice on Friday morning bore no fruit, he said, “All efforts, even in the morning today, failed, leaving us with no choice but to communicate to the nation.” He added that the judges’ collegium was functioning in such a way that it raised a lot of questions and many more undesirable things were happening.
“...THE JUDGES WILL NOW HAVE TO ACT IN STATESMANSHIP AND ENSURE THE DIVISIVENESS IS WHOLLY NEUTRALISED...” K K VENUGOPAL, ATTORNEY GENERAL