NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented move, four top judges of the Supreme Court on Friday publicly slammed Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra accusing him of flouting rules and assigning cases to wrong benches.
In a press meet on Friday, the four ‘rebel judges’ – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph said that ‘things were not in order’ at the apex court.
Saying that ‘the democracy of the nation is at stake’, the senior-most judges launched a sharp attack on Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for ‘ignoring the concerns voiced by them’. “Administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Many things less than desirable have happened in the last few months. We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation,” Justice Chelameswar said during the press conference yesterday.
In a letter released subsequently, the ‘rebel’ judges – the four most-senior at the top court after CJI Dipak Misra – highlighted that rules are often not followed when cases are being allocated and that departure from rules will hurt the integrity of the top court. They also accused that cases with far-reaching consequences are being assigned selectively. “The four of us gave a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) some months ago,” the justices revealed.
Despite repeated attempts, including a meeting with the CJI on Friday morning, Chief Justice Mishra could not be persuaded to mend the ways of the court. “We met CJI this morning. We collectively tried to persuade CJI that certain things aren’t in order, so take some remedial measures, but unfortunately, our efforts failed,” said Justice Chelameswar. Although they mentioned that their complaints include the death case of Special CBI Judge, BH Loya, they denied to elaborate.
Moments after their press conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi summoned Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss the matter at hand. The judges’ allegations evoked sharp reactions from a divided legal fraternity of the country with some supporting their cause and others chiding them for immature and childish behaviour.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the four senior-most judges could have avoided addressing a press conference on their differences with the Chief Justice but expressed confidence that the entire issue would be resolved very soon. ”Today’s press conference could have been avoided, but the Supreme Court judges are all statesman with vast experience and knowledge, and I am sure by tomorrow, the entire issue would be resolved,” Attorney General said.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi demanded that its senior-most judges should supervise a probe by SIT into the death of Judge BH Loya. The Congress also issued a statement after Gandhi met senior party leaders, including P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Manish Tewari who are also leading lawyers, and discussed the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior-most judges. Gandhi and his party demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge BH Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the top judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.
Following opposition’s reaction, the ruling BJP launched a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi-led Congress and accused it of playing politics over what it called ”an internal matter” of the judiciary after four top court judges openly complained about the way things were being conducted by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra. Addressing a press briefing, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, ”Rahul Gandhi is playing politics over the Supreme Court issue while it’s an internal matter of the apex court.”