Hectic parleys were going on today among Supreme Court judges over the crisis that has erupted after the virtual revolt by four senior most judges of the apex court against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Two top court judges—justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao—met Justice J Chelameswar, who had led the four judges in the unprecedented press conference, at his official residence here, sources said.
The meeting of these judges took place soon after a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India (BCI), the regulatory body of lawyers, met Justice Chelameswar at his residence to discuss the crisis that has hit the judiciary. The BCI delegation, led by its Chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, is meeting all the apex court judges today to discuss on the issue.
Sources said the delegation has already met several apex court judges, including Justice R K Agrawal, and has also sought an appointment to meet CJI Misra in the evening today. A BCI source said that the seven-member delegation’s meetings with the judges will be on till late in the evening as some of the judges are away from Delhi and likely to return in the evening.
Meanwhile, a coordination committee of all Delhi bar associations has also called a press meet in the evening to express its views on the recent happenings. The apex lawyers’ body had yesterday held a meeting to discuss the developments that has surfaced after the January 12 press conference by justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
These four judges had raised a litany of problems, including the assigning of cases in the apex court, and said there were certain issues afflicting the country’s highest court.
The BCI had termed the press conference by the judges as an “unfortunate step” and said, “From the letter of the judges, it appears that there were certain differences between the chief justice of India and these judges on the issues relating to roster and the listing of some cases.”
It had constituted a seven-member delegation to meet the apex court judges and make them acquainted with the views of the bar.
“The delegation would request them (judges) to resolve the issue at the earliest. The council is of the unanimous view that it is an internal matter of the Supreme Court,” the BCI has said in its press statement.
It has also cautioned political parties and politicians “not to criticise the judiciary and/or to make it an issue, because it would weaken the independence of our judiciary which is the protector of our democracy”.
The council has also expressed the hope that judges of the top court would realise the “seriousness of the issue and in future, they may avoid any such situation of which the politicians or the political parties could take undue advantage and/or which could cause harm to our judiciary”.
Besides Manan Kumar Mishra, the delegation comprises BCI co-chairman S Prabakaran and other members—Vijay Bhatt, Apurba Kumar Sharma, Pratap C Mehta, Rameshchandra G Shah and T S Ajith. BCI’s vice-chairman Satish A Deshmukh is a special invitee of the delegation.
Yesterday, Justice Gogoi had said “there is no crisis” while Justice Jospeh had said that there was no need for an outside intervention to solve the issue. Regarding these statements, the BCI has said, “These are positive statements in strengthening the Indian judiciary and it establishes that the matter would be resolved soon.”
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had yesterday expressed “grave concern” over the differences of the four seniormost judges with the CJI and had said the issue should be immediately considered by the full court of the apex court.
The SCBA executive committee, which held an emergency meeting, had resolved that all public interest litigation (PIL) matters, including the pending PILs, should be either taken up by the CJI or be assigned for adjudication to four senior judges who were part of the apex court collegium.
Besides CJI Misra, others in the collegium in accordance with seniority are—justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Joseph.