Justice Kurian Joseph: We felt CJI Dipak Misra was being controlled from outside
After demitting office as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Kurian Joseph said they felt that CJI Dipak Misra was being controlled from outside and was allocating cases to judges with political bias
A day after demitting office as a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Kurian Joseph defended the January 12 press conference by four judges by him
Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B Lokur, saying he has no regrets and that he did it consciously to put in place an "institutional collective" decision-making process.
He said they felt that then CJI Dipak Misra was being controlled from outside and was allocating cases to judges with political bias. "There were several instances of external influences on the working of the Supreme Court relating to allocation of cases to benches headed by select judges and appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts,” pointed out Justice Joseph.
"Someone from outside was controlling the CJI, that is what we felt. So we met him, asked him, wrote to him to maintain independence and majesty of the Supreme Court. When all attempts failed, we decided to hold a press conference,” asserted Joseph, according to a report on Times of India.
Asked to elaborate on the "external influence", Justice Joseph said, "Starkly perceptible signs of influence with regard to allocation of cases to different benches selectively, to select judges who were perceived to be politically biased."
Justice Joseph said Justice Chelameswar initiated the idea of the press conference, “but we three agreed with him”.
The presser and allegations of the then CJI getting cosy with the establishment were cited as grounds in the motion moved by Congress-led opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha seeking Justice Misra's removal.
Underlining that Article 25 was the ‘Lakshman Rekha’, Justice Joseph said that as long the religious faith and practices do not violate Article 25 of the constitution, no court should interfere
It was not just a question of roster, but that of the larger issue of unhealthy practice of an individual taking decisions without consulting others, said Justice Joseph.
Unsure if it has been fully changed, Justice Joseph said, "It was an institutional crisis. Systems and practices are there for a long time. It takes time to change."
In the course of his interaction with media at his residence, Justice Joseph touched on many areas including whether there was government interference in the affairs of the judiciary, composition of benches dealing with the question relating to public interest, constitutional, public and social morality, PILs, judicial appointments and judges taking up post retirement assignments.
He said he has not felt any interference by the government in the discharge of his judicial work nor has he heard any such thing from other judges.
However, he said there is an indirect interference in the matters of appointments when a decision on the collegium recommendations are delayed, names are selectively cleared and held back for a long time.
Underlining that Article 25 was the 'Lakshman Rekha', Justice Joseph
said that as long the religious faith and practices do not violate Article 25 of the constitution, no court should interfere.
He said when the court is deciding issues relating to diversity of the country, faith, social morality and regional issues, the composition of bench adjudicating the issue should reflect that diversity.
On post-retirement assignments, Justice Joseph said, "So long as the government thinks it is charity to a judge, no judge should accept it."
Justice Joseph when the court is deciding issues relating to diversity of the country, faith, social morality and regional issues, the composition of bench adjudicating the issue should reflect that diversity.
Justice Joseph was born into a lower middle-class family and had to persevere to become the third senior-most judge in the Supreme Court.
His father was a clerk in the Kerala high court, where he started his practice in 1979 at the age of 26. He was appointed additional advocate general of Kerala in 1994 and was designated a senior advocate in 1996, reported TOI.
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