Cracks in Indian Judiciary, 4 Senior most Judges of the Supreme Court take on the Chief Justice
India’s top judiciary is sharply split, with four of India’s senior-most judges today launching an unprecedented attack on Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, over the allocation of cases at a press conference on Friday, warning a lack of impartiality could imperil India’s democracy.
The press conference by Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, appears to have blown the lid off a growing rift between the senior judges and Chief Justice Misra. The four, along with the CJI, are part of the Supreme Court collegium that selects judges to the apex court and high courts.
The clash comes in the wake of a controversial order in November in which the CJI declared that the chief justice “is the master of the roster” having exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge.
“This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation, and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary … It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference. But sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months,” said justice Chelameswar at the press conference held at his house in Delhi.
Justice Chelameswar, the second-most senior judge in the Supreme Court after the chief justice, said: “We tried to persuade the CJI to take steps but failed. Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in this country.”
He added that the four had met chief justice Misra with a “specific request” but were unable to convince him, reported Hindustan Times.
“…We were left with no choice except to communicate it to the nation that please take care of the institution…Don’t want people to say 20 years later that we did not take care of the institution,” said Justice Chelameswar.
After the four judges held a press conference, the first in the history of India’s judiciary, at the New Delhi residence of Justice J Chelameswar, CJI Dipak Misra met Attorney General KK Venugopal.
The Narendra Modi government, meanwhile, is cautious and watching the situation from a distance. Although Modi called Law Ministr Ravi Shankar Prasad and other ministers to his office today, there has been no official response from the government. Sources in the government said it is waiting for Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to take a position on the matter before it responds.