In an unprecedented move, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court today called a press conference to express their displeasure over the functioning of the apex court under the leadership of Chief Justice Dipak Mishra.
The four judges - Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph – publically alleged that the administration of the country's top court was not in order and pointed out that democracy will not survive in this country unless this institution is preserved.
It was a first of its kind press conference by the sitting judges of the Supreme Court in which fingers were raised at the way cases were being allotted by the Chief Justice.
Justice J Chelameswar, at whose residence this press conference was held, said that the four judges had written a letter to CJI Dipak Misra some time back, raising important issues but all of them “failed to persuade CJI that certain things are not in order and therefore you should take remedial measures.”
“Unfortunately our efforts failed. And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in recent past,” Justice Chelameswar added.
When asked to disclose what these issues were, he said they included the “allocation of cases by CJI”.
Justice Chelameswar’s remarks assume significance as the Supreme Court today took up for consideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
“we owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution. This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary,” Justice Chelameswar said.
“It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference. But 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 added.
All the judges rubbished questions on whether they have broken ranks, with Justice Gogoi saying “nobody is breaking the rank and it is a discharge of debt to the nation, which we have done.” Justice Gogoi would be succeeding the incumbent CJI in October this year.
Asked whether they wanted the Chief Justice to be impeached, Justice Chelameswar said “don’t try to put words in our mouth. Let the nation decide that”.
“The CJI has left us with no option but to go public about what is going on within the Collegium,” he added.
Reacting to the charges levelled by the four judges, former Union Law Minister Hansraj Bhardwaj said that it has caused the loss of prestige of the entire institution.
" It's the loss of prestige of the entire institution. If you lose public's trust what remains? Judiciary must remain pillar of democracy. It's responsibility of Law Minister to see how it functions," Hansraj Bhardwaj said.
Former Supreme Court judge PB Sawant said that the press conference indicates there is a serious dispute brewing up inside the Supreme Court.
"Judges had to come before media and take this unprecedented step. This means that there is a serious dispute, either with Chief Justice of India (CJI) or some internal dispute," Justice Sawant said.
Watch: Press conference of four Supreme Court Judges
Watch: Key points of SC judges' press conference