Democracy in danger, say Supreme Court judges

Supreme Court Judges (L-R) Kurien Joseph, Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B Lokur 

In an unprecedented act of defiance, four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court have indicted the Chief Justice of India and accused him of acting arbitrarily

In an unprecedented display of disgust and defiance, four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court after the CJI Dipak Misra, have declared that democracy is threatened and that the administration in the Supreme Court is just not right. Alleging that less desirable developments were taking place in the apex court, speaking for all of them Justice Chelameswar said they had been left with no option but to place their concerns before the nation.

Asked about the next course of action, he said that the nation would decide on the impeachment of the Chief Justice. The four senior-most judges would go back to work on Monday, he added. All the four judges rose early from the court to reach Justice Chelameswar’s residence on Tughlaq Road for the press conference. This is the first time in the country’s history that Supreme Court judges have addressed a formal press conference on an issue concerning the apex court.

The four judges, said Justice Chelameswar, had called on the Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra but had failed to convince him of the irregularities that disturbed them. “We wanted the CJI to rectify certain things but the CJI declined,” said Justice Chelameswar, whose term ends in June. Alluding to the arbitrary manner of case assignments, he declared that democracy would not survive if corrective steps are not taken.

Besides Justice Chelameswar, Jutice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph were also present at the press conference held at the residence of Justice Chelameswar. While Justices Chalmeswar, Lokur and Gogoi are due to retire later this year while Ranjan Gogoi’s term ends in November, 2019.

The judges also released a copy of the letter they had addressed to the CJI.

Earlier this week senior lawyet Dushyant Dave had written a scathing comment criticising the arbitrary manner of case allocation to different benches.

“…does the Chief Justice of India possess absolute, unguided and arbitrary administrative powers to “constitute the Benches of the Court and allocate cases to the Benches so constituted”, Dave asked before answering in the negative.

“Yet, a little insight into the functioning of today’s Supreme Court will reveal that the Chief Justice has been exercising powers in a completely opaque and unfathomable manner. Several instances in recent months reflect that the Constitution Benches are constituted by including only certain Judges and excluding therefrom certain other Judges.”

“The order passed by the Bench presided by the Chief Justice eloquently speaks about, “judicial discipline and decorum” and “convention” followed by the Court. Those very principles would oblige the Chief Justice not to pick and choose in constituting Benches,” he had added.

The judges appeared upset over the CJI constituting a Bench to hear petitions challenging Aadhaar by excluding Justice Chelameswar, Justice Bobde and Justice Nazeer, who had been hearing the case since 2013.

They have also raised the manner in which the petition seeking an inquiry into the suspicious death of Justice Loya of the CBI Special Court in Mumbai hearing the discharge petition of BJP national president Amit Shah, was assigned by the CJI to a ‘questionable’judge.

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