Irreparable damage done to Judiciary: Justice Hegde

The four judges in the order of seniority - Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph - at a Press conference held at 4, Tughlaq Road, the official residence of Justice Chelameswar, unanimously expressed their angst about how the CJI refused to act on their letter expressing these concerns addressed to him nearly two months ago.

He urged all political parties to refrain from making statements about this issue. "This must be guarded against at all costs", they wrote in a letter to CJI earlier previous year.

"If they had to come for a press conference, they should have said something substantial", Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh told ANI on Saturday. Today's press conference would cause a bad precedent. Four get together and show the Chief Justice in a poor light. "It was meant to see that more transparency is there", Justice Joseph was quoted by IANS.

The collegium has extensive powers in matters of appointing judges, transferring judges, administration of the courts and day-to-day management of the courts.

When asked whether the four judges' act had amounted to a violation of discipline, Gogoi refused to comment, saying, "I have to catch a flight to Lucknow".

The former Karnataka Lokayukta said judiciary is totally different from Legislature and Executive, and the four Judges, by raising allegations in public, have brought them to the same level.

The four judges - Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph - warned that India's democracy is under threat because of the way CJI Dipak Misra is running the apex court. The chairman of the BCI, Manan Kumar Mishra, told reporters that the press conference held by the four senior judges on Friday was an "unfortunate development".

Asked what these issues were, he said they included the "allocation of cases by CJI". All citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court, are looking at this issue and it's important that its addressed.

Justice Joseph said in Kochi that there was no constitutional crisis in the top court and the issues they had raised appeared to have been sorted out. There was no official confirmation about reports that Justice Misra will be meeting with the rebel judges.

The Bharatiya Janata Party said the press conference held against the administration of the top court was an internal matter of the court.

Some legal luminaries also said the turn of events had raised a question mark about the credibility of the judicial system.

The four judges also touched upon another controversial issue, the memorandum of procedure (MoP) on appointment of judges over which the Supreme Court had locked horns with the government. "All of the wild guesses will go all over the country and all kinds of things will be said about the Supreme Court".

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said a thorough investigation was required to understand how the independence and integrity of the judiciary was getting "affected", after the judges said many "less than desirable" things had taken place in the apex court. "We are convinced that unless corrective steps are taken immediately, the judiciary will lose its strong and independent tag, an essential hallmark of a vibrant democracy".

  • Tracy Klein