In an unprecedented move, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court — Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph — addressed a press conference and alleged that the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was compromising the institution.
Members of the legal fraternity expressed shock and called it depressing as it would have serious repercussions on the public image of the judiciary on its independence. Calling the act ‘trade unionism’, there are a few who have demanded an impeachment of the four judges:
Asok Kumar Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court: It is depressing and shocking. It is a sad day for judiciary if four judges have chosen to come out and speak because they are unhappy in the manner in which cases are selectively assigned. The process should evolve over dialogue. These judges went to the CJI to persuade him about certain cases. The Supreme Court should function on the basis of consensus among the judges in the matters of judicial administration. Though the Chief Justice of India is the first among equals, he should exercise his powers in such a manner that it inspires confidence and promotes justice. The is the first instance of sitting judges addressing a press conference.
Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India: I’m very upset about this, I wish the four Supreme Court judges hadn’t done this. It will have repercussions on the public image of the judiciary on its independence. I see it as a depressing and distressing feature; four judges of the Supreme Court gave a press conference; it has never happened before. It should be sorted out by having a free and frank conference with the Chief Justice.
RS Sodhi, former Delhi High Court judge: I think all four judges should be impeached, they have no business to sit there and deliver verdicts anymore. This trade unionism is wrong. Democracy in danger is not for them to say, we have parliament, courts, police functioning.
Prashant Bhushan, lawyer: It is certainly a very serious development which has cast a huge shadow on the Chief Justice. Somebody had to confront the situation, where CJ is blatantly misusing his powers, hence the unprecedented step.
PB Sawant, former Supreme Court judge: Judges had to come before media & take this unprecedented step. This means that there is a serious dispute, either with Chief Justice of India (CJI) or some internal dispute.
Indira Jaising, former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) and senior counsel: I think it's a historic press conference. It was very well done. I think we, the people of India, have a right to know what is going on within the judiciary & I welcome this.
Anand Grover, designated Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court: I think they didn’t have a choice. There is an unwritten code on how matters are assigned to judges in a manner of fairness. A particular bench cannot be assigned certain cases. It is good that the four judges have done because the public has a right to know if there is a interference from the executive. There is a break-down of a system and it has to be solved. Hopefully, this will lead to conversations and a real solution can, hopefully, emerge.
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