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Virtual revolt by 4 Supreme Court judges against CJI, say democracy at stake

Ashish Tripathi, New Delhi, DH News Service, Jan 13 2018, 1:19 IST
Besides Justice Chelameswar, the other judges were Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. ANI Twitter

Besides Justice Chelameswar, the other judges were Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. ANI Twitter

"This is an extraordinary event in the history of the nation. It gives us no pleasure to hold the press conference," Justice J Chelameswar said, addressing reporters from the lawns of his residence on Tughlak Road here.

Justice Chelameswar, flanked by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, said, "Cases having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justice of this court selectively to the benches 'of their preferences' without any rational basis."

"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," he said.

He said all their efforts to convince the CJI to take corrective measures have failed.

"Four of us went to the CJI (this morning too) but unfortunately, we could not convince him," they said, in an indication of crisis within the top judiciary.

"And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in the recent past. Unless the institution is preserved, democracy will not survive. The hallmark of democracy is the independence of the judiciary," Justice Chelameswar said.

To a specific query, if the allocation of certain cases also involved the one related to the death of Special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, Justice Gogoi said, "Yes".

The judges also circulated a letter written by them to the CJI, pointing out their grievances. They said, "Chief Justice is only the first amongst equals - nothing more or nothing less."

To a question, if they are breaking ranks, the judges said, "We are speaking for ourselves. We are doing it in order to discharge our debt to the nation."

"We have heard a lot of wise men talking earlier in this country. I don't want, another 20 years later, some very wise men in this country name that Justice Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph sold their souls," Justice Chelameswar said.

The judges also questioned how the issue of Memorandum of Procedure about the appointment of judges was allowed to be dealt with by a two-judge bench in the R P Luthra case when the Constitution bench had already passed the order in the NJAC case.

The CJI-led bench had on November 8 last, overturned the order - asking the government to explain the delay - passed by a two-judge bench and observed that these are not the issues to be dealt on the judicial side.

The judges were apparently irked over the impression given by the CJI that the deliberation was still on for finalisation of the MoP.

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