“Let nation decide the impeachment of CJI,” said Justice Chelameswar
New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court ( SC ) on Friday held a press conference and publicly accused the Chief Justice of India ( CJI ) for being selective in assigning cases to the judges of his choice and not being rational.
Transcending judicial protocol that sitting judges should not interact with the media, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph comes up with a nine-page letter and accused CJI Justice Dipak Mishra for assigning the “nation centric” cases to the junior judges, against the time-tested convention, practice and tradition of the court.
“Administration not in Order”
The letter which was circulated among the Press, was first addressed to the CJI in the month of October 2017. In it the four judges showed their concern to the CJI by highlighting certain judicial orders, passed by the SC in the last few months that had affected the overall functioning of the independent judiciary.
Among the four Justice Chelameswar said that despite collectively trying to persuade the Chief Justice to take remedial measure, their efforts failed.
“The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Many things undesirable have happened in the last few months. As senior-most judges of the court and of this country, we hold a responsibility to the institution and to the nation,” he said.
“Democracy at Risk”
The judges said that with the future of the democracy at stake, they had “no other choice but communicate to the nation to please take care of this institution.” They believe that they cannot sold their souls and do nothing to protect their institutions.
“Any wise men to say 20 years later that Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian sold their souls and did not take care of the interests of this illustrious institution,” said Chelameswar.
“Unless the institution is preserved and allowed to maintain its dignity, democracy will not survive. The hallmark of a good democracy are independent and impartial judges,” he added.
“Justice Loya’s death connection”
Justice Chelameswar recounted that the trigger for the press conference was a meeting they held with the Chief Justice on Friday morning regarding the assignment of a petition, seeking an independent probe into the mysterious death of CBI judge B.H. Loya, to a particular Bench. (Loya was the CBI judge hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheik encounter case).
The four had expressed their reservations to the CJI about the assignation of the Loya case. But the CJI had refused to budge. Hence, they informed him of their intention to go public.
Without naming the Chief Justice, Chelameswar also said that apart from the Loya’s case, several other important cases were also tabled to the preferred Benches over the past months. He believe that the convention of the court demands important cases of public interest should be first heard by the CJI. If CJI, due to some reasons could not hear the case, then it should be tabled to the next senior most judge of the SC. But instead of that, such cases were been assigned to certain Benches.
Asked if the CJI should be impeached, he said, “Let the nation decide.”
“Chief Justice is not Biased”
The few sources from the Supreme Court denied that the CJI was taking decisions in a biased manner.
“The CJI’s conscience is clear. All high-profile cases are allocated uniformly to the top four judges,” said by an officials of the SC.