In an unprecedented move, four of the senior most judges of the Supreme Court of India, barring Chief Justice Dipak Misra, have risen to hold a press conference at the residence of Justice Jasti Chelameswar.
Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph rose from their respective benches at approximately 11:15 am today, leaving lawyers and litigants speculating the reasons for the same. It later came to light that the four Collegium members were holding a press conference at the residence of Justice Chelameswar at 4, Tughlaq Road.
There has been enough evidence in the past to suggest a rift in the Collegium headed by CJI Misra. Reports came out in December that Justices Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph – the fourth and fifth seniormost judges of the apex court – had written letters to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra expressing their reservations against the publication of Collegium resolutions.
Here is a video of Justice Gogoi summing up the reason for the press conference
No matter which side you are on, January 12, 2018 will go down as a significant date in the history of the Indian Judiciary, and more specifically, the Supreme Court.
The decision of four of the senior most judges to come out publicly in their criticism of the functioning of the apex court only confirms the trouble that has been slowly brewing within the body responsible for making judicial appointments.
What makes these public revelations all the more surprising is the fact that historically, the working of the highest echelons of the judiciary has been shrouded in mystery. The Judges Press Conference held today has bucked that trend, perhaps at the cost of diminishing the image of the judiciary in the eyes of the common man.
Having said that, the way the apex court has functioned in the recent past has been far from perfect; today’s events has put it beyond doubt that all is not well at the very top of the judiciary. However, the reasons behind what is being termed as a “judicial crisis” can hardly be described as pellucid.
Precious little was revealed by Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph at the press conference held today in order to express their displeasure with the way the apex court has been functioning under the tenure of Chief JusticeDipak Misra. The letter addressed to CJI Misra, however, made things clearer, even if only slightly so.
In a nutshell, the letter cites Chief Justice Misra’s listing of matters of constitutional importance before benches excluding the senior most judges, as the main gripe of the four judges. Specifically, the case regarding the Memorandum of Procedure is given as an example.
However, it is becoming more and more clear that the tipping point was the listing of the petitions seeking an investigation into the death of Special CBI judge BH Loya. Justice Gogoi’s revelation of the same when asked by members of the press is perhaps the most important part of today’s presser.