Warning that democracy is at stake, four senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday mounted a virtual revolt against the country's chief justice, raising questions on "selective" case allocation and certain judicial orders, sending shockwaves across the judiciary and polity.
"There have been instances where a case having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by Chief Justice of this court selectively to benches without rationale basis". All four judges - Justices Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph are known to be "sober and responsible" and have done what they did because there was no other way to stem the rot in the system.
He further said, "We tried to persuade the CJI to take steps but failed".
Khanna paid the price for his dissent when he was superseded by justice MH Beg for the post of Chief Justice by the Indira Gandhi government. They accused Chief Justice Dipak Misra of ignoring their suggestions to take remedial measures.
They were quoted to have added that an independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy.
Lone contended that a fair probe was needed into the "mysterious death" of Loya. We met CJI this morning, with specific request but we could not convince him. Some of the judges are now in the Supreme Court bench.
"If he (the chief justice) doesn't resign, then I believe there will be an impeachment", Bhushan said. It is being conjectured that the 4 senior most judges are concerned that the crucial case may be handed over to a "junior bench" by the CJI. While there is no questioning who has the power to determine the roster, what the four judges are essentially questioning is how this power has been exercised.
Justice Chelameswar confirmed the difference of opinion is about the assignment of the case concerning Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge who was hearing the matter of the allegedly staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Conventionally, it is the outgoing CJI who recommends to the President of India the name of the senior-most judge for appointment as his successor. While BJP's MP Subramanian Swamy said "We can't criticize them; Also, he said that PM must have to ensure that four judges and CJI along with Supreme Court have to come at one opinion".
Satpathy said that like other wings of democracy, the judiciary, too, be brought under the ambit the Right to Information (RTI) to bring in more transparency.
In a seven-page letter, the four judges said they were not mentioning details of cases only to avoid embarrassing the institution because "such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent".
"Judiciary and the media are the pillars of democracy".
Speaking on behalf of the four judges, Justice Chelameswar expressed his lament over the corrosion and compromise taking place within the institution of the judiciary and especially within the portals of the Supreme Court. From now on every common man could look at all judicial order with suspicion.
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