(G.N.S) Dt. 15
The Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, “smiled but didn’t answer” this morning when the rebellion of four senior judges who rank after him was raised before his bench at the Supreme Court. The four judges, who publicly criticized the Chief Justice last week, attended court and took up routine work. In the shadow of the unprecedented confrontation, coffee at the start of the day took on rare significance as all staff was asked to leave the lounge where judges sit together and talk. Sources say it could mean that there might have been “open talk”.
Chief Justice Misra is yet to reach out to Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph, who took him on in an extraordinary press conference on Friday.
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Supreme Court lawyer RP Luthra, raising the controversy before the Chief Justice, said “there is a conspiracy to destroy the institution and the Chief Justice must initiate action,” Justice Misra heard him out, smiled, but remained silent.
For the four “rebel” judges, it was “business as usual” regardless of the roster of cases, which is decided by the Chief Justice. “The judges will hear whatever is assigned to them,” said sources.
On Sunday, senior lawyers of the Supreme Court who met the Chief Justice said he had said he “would ensure there was congeniality in the top court at the earliest”.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh handed over a resolution that appeared to support the four judges and said all public interest litigation should be taken up by senior most judges.
In order to broker peace, a team from the Bar Council of India – the regulatory body of lawyers – met with Justice Misra on Saturday.
Two Supreme Court judges — Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao – met with Justice Chelameswar but it was a scheduled meeting, asserted sources.
On Friday, the four judges stunned the nation as they held a press conference at the house of Justice Chelameswar, who is the most senior judge in the country after Justice Misra, and declared that the administration of the Supreme Court “is not in order”.
The judges spoke out against the allocation of sensitive cases to junior judges and said without an independent judiciary, “democracy wouldn’t survive”.
The judges said they were making their disagreement with the Chief Justice public after private talks failed to address what they said were serious problems with the running of the Supreme Court.
Among the cases that they had taken up with the Chief Justice over allocation to a junior judge was that of judge BH Loya’s death in 2014, months after he took over a case in which BJP president Amit Shah was an accused. Judge Loya’s family had voiced suspicion that his death was not natural, but yesterday, his son Anuj Loya held a press conference to say his family had no suspicions now and the death was being “politicized.”