No regret in addressing press conference: Kurian Joseph

Justice Kurian Joseph being presented a memento by the members of Bar Council as Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi (L) looks on, during Justice Joseph's farewell function at the Supreme Court, in New Delhi, Thursday, Nov 29, 2018. (PTI Photo)

A day after his retirement, Justice Kurian Joseph, who was one of the four judges of the Supreme Court to address an unprecedented press conference on January 12, on Friday said that he had no regrets for it as the issues, sought to be highlighted, were institutional ones and not intended against an individual.

“I never regretted, whatever I did, I did it consciously for a cause as no other ways was left,” the 65-year-judge said in a free-wheeling discussion at his residence here after celebrating his birthday.

On being asked if things, including allocation of cases, changed after the presser, he said, institutional issues take a long time to change, it required clamour for a change. “Even earlier CJI (Dipak Misra) also changed. It was not only the question of roster. We wanted a permanent mechanism on consultative decision making (on allocation of cases). After we spoke, things became more transparent”

Denying that he or other Supreme Court judges ever faced any political pressure in deciding a case, Justice Joseph said, “With me, it never happened. I never faced any political pressure in judicial exercise as a judge.”

At the same time, he said, in the matter of appointment and selection of judges, delay or whittling down of Collegium recommendations in way affected the administration of justice.

On Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges, the judge, who was the third senior-most judge in a five-judge Collegium, said the Supreme Court was acting as per the latest draft. “As far as the SC is concerned, it is final. I wonder why the government says the MoP is not final,” he said.

To a question if he finds any problem in recent trends where the government says the apex court's certain judgements, including Sabarimala, could not be implemented, Justice Joseph said, when a judgement is passed, it becomes binding and a law of land under Article 141 of the Constitution. However, there is a procedure for seeking review, modification and rectification.

He, however, said when an issue of larger public interest is adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court, diversity should be reflected in composition of the bench.

With regard to post-retirement assignments to judges, he said, so long as the offer is made honourably and not as a charity by the government, there is no problem in accepting it as many tribunals are to be manned by the retired judges only.

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