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Rebellion in the ranks: Seniormost SC judges turn against CJI and towards press as conjectures fly over MCI, Loya & more [READ LETTER]

4 SC judges Vs CJI4 SC judges Vs CJI

The four most senior Supreme Court judges were, in an unprecedented move, “left with no other option” but to call a press conference after their private meeting with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra earlier today apparently failed to yield desired results for them.

Addressing the press the second-most senior judge Justice Jasti Chelameswar (who won’t be the next CJI) said that “we went to the CJI with a letter a few months back for a particular thing to be done in a particular way. That thing was done but in such a way that it raised further questions and left too many questions and doubts about the judiciary. Again today morning we went [...] but we failed to convince [the CJI]”, according to the NDTV broadcast of the press conference.

The conference was called by justice Chelameswar and justices Ranjan Gogoi (the next CJI from 2 October 2018), Madan B Lokur and Kurien Joseph at Chelameswar’s residence.

The judges didn't directly confirm the subject of the request they had made to the CJI, which they said they had “failed to convince him” about, but they did not deny that it could also be related to the Supreme Court's probe into (and long omerta over) the allegedly suspicious death of CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who died unexpectedly before he was finished hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter case.

Though NDTV's news anchor repeatedly surmised that “judge Loya case appears to be the trigger” for the press conference, and cited justice Gogoi as saying “yes” in response to the question whether this had to do with the Justice Loya case, Justice Chelameswar also spoke about their earlier letter to the CJI.

Former Supreme Court Justice RS Sodhi said that he was “pained” that a press conference had to be called by SC judges and that despite a difference of opinion within the collegium earlier “no one went to the press. This is appalling”.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” and commented to NDTV: “They are saying that all these issues which arise in public mind are to be dealt with the highest principles of natural justice one of which is that you cant be a judge in your own cause.”

The letter

The letter from judges to Misra (via WhatsApp forwards)The letter from judges to Misra (via WhatsApp forwards)

The letter that was addressed by these four judges to Misra suggests that as “master of the roster” the CJI had not exercised his power to assign cases to various benches in accordance with conventional rules of bench composition and strength.

The judges stated in the letter:

Any departure from the above two rules would not only lead to unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution. Not to talk about the chaos that would result from such departure.

We are sorry to say that off late the twin rules mentioned above have not been strictly adhered to. There have been instances where case having far reaching consequences for the nation have been assigned by the chief justices of this court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs.

They indicated that a memorandum of procedure (MoP) which had already been finalised in a Supreme Court order 2016 in the AOR Association case before it, and was sent to the government which to date has not commented on it. In the absence of the government's action the MoP stands as law by virtue of being ordered as such by the Supreme Court, and that there was no reason to make observations in a separate case in October 2017 to turn back the process and delay the MoP's adoption.

In November 2017, CJI Misra had overturned an order passed by justice Chelameswar, who had referred a Medical Council of India (MCI) scam to a constitution bench of the top court. Snubbing Justice Chelameswa, CJI Misra said that he was the master of the roster adding that judges could not assign matters to themselves, reported Janta Ka Reporter and others.

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Like +1 Object -3 Guest 12 Jan 18, 15:32
Partly a consequence of Modi neglecting judicial reforms and appointing a useless law minister RS Prasad (and an even more useless one before him S Gowda).
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Like +11 Object -6 kianganz 12 Jan 18, 15:36  interesting  controversial
Does anyone else get the feeling that this rebellion is caused by the current CJI having been very chummy with the government.

I've been particularly surprised to see the government make statements the night before the privacy judgment, and then again the night before the recent national anthem re-order, as though they were aware or they had notice that the SC would postpone Aadhaar-linking and make national anthem non-mandatory in cinemas, respectively.

Or am I reading too much into things? :)
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Like +11 Object -11 The coin has two sides 12 Jan 18, 17:05  controversial
If you are of the view that the current CJI is very chummy with the incumbent Government then the logical thing to assume is that the 4 judges are close to the previous one. Is that what you are inferring to.

In all democracies, the party in power in order to get its way puts people at the helm of various institutions to be biased to them. This does not mean annihilation, on the contrary it means to behold the democratic principles as the party would like to deliver on what it has promised to the larger public by not having unnecessary hurdles being put in place.

It is only when this power is utilized in an offensive manner, for people to be worried. It is only when the discretion is not used but the entire decision (which would have otherwise been given) marred, that we must all stand up and speak.

Till then, enjoy the show.
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Like +1 Object -0 Vakil Kya Gyan 12 Jan 18, 20:26
If I remember correctly a former Judge Mr Markandey Katju in October 2016 had given a statement regarding Jusitce Dipak Mishra and Justice Ramana. In the same article he also held Justice Chelameshwar and Justice Nariman in high regard.

I don’t think one needs to draw political analogies.
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Like +1 Object -1 Chamcha 13 Jan 18, 14:20
Kian you contradict your self. If the court were acting per the whims of the Government then there would be no need for course correction by it anticipating an adverse verdict. Also, since you have never litigated you don't know that an astute lawyer can many a times anticipate a court order. It's not rocket science.
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Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 13 Jan 18, 14:30
I'm not saying he's in the government's pocket, but as far as I remember, this has generally not happened before under other CJIs - i.e., the government would generally wait until the order is out before making pre-emptive announcements.

You're right, it could just be more effective PR and prediction on the government's side or perhaps the new AG who's more proactive, but I'm still not convinced that there aren't more direct channels of communication that have opened between government and CJI in recent months...
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Like +2 Object -0 Duh 16 Jan 18, 11:20
When P V Sindhu won a silver medal at Olympics Indians thought her caste is more important to either appreciate or depreciate her. Her caste was the most googled thing on net.

Check the article

The Indian system still works on religion, class, caste, communities and such ugly things which is the ugly truth.
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Like +9 Object -10 ABC123 12 Jan 18, 15:34  controversial
Please do not rely on biased Congi bootlickers NDTV for news.
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Like +17 Object -3 Alias 12 Jan 18, 16:48  interesting  top rated
Yeah...please watch either IndiaTV or Republic only! Also, please read ......Panchjanya only.....
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Like +7 Object -8 Guest 12 Jan 18, 17:24  controversial
Republic TV is giving the best coverage of this. NDTV is the worst and totally biased.
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Like +5 Object -2 A saddened Advocate 12 Jan 18, 18:48
A sad day indeed as it lowers the dignity of the Apex Court.

Strangely while people are making remarks regarding the SC tilting in favour of the BJP, on the same day the daughter of the former Congress chief minister Vibhadra Singh, has been appointed as the Chief Justice of Manipur.

Instead of trading barbs regarding the political affiliations, steps should be taken to select impartial / apolitical judges.
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Like +9 Object -2 Thinking 12 Jan 18, 19:38  interesting
My head is paining so I am not able to think very rationally right now but I want to know the difference between this and Justice Karnan incident. Please give me atleast 5 points of difference.
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Like +1 Object -0 Idli 17 Jan 18, 17:08
Five points why he went to jail....
1. He was the first case to rebel....anything first is always cursed
2. He was alone who did it as against a group....majority is right minority is wrong....
3. He followed procedure....following procedure is not the surest way
4. He did not have any support
5. He belonged to the opressed scheduled caste
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Like +6 Object -6 Jug 13 Jan 18, 00:24  controversial
What are these four trying to achieve by calling a press conference and washing dirty linen in public?
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Like +8 Object -4 Anti National 13 Jan 18, 17:03
They are clearing their conscience so that history does not judge them harshly. They are standing up for what they believe; and knowing the kind of individuals they are, this surely was the last resort. A display of their helplessness. Spare some thought to what must have led them to this act.
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Like +4 Object -7 D rajae 13 Jan 18, 20:17
What led them - meeting with d raja?
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Like +2 Object -1 Lonely Planet 14 Jan 18, 18:07
The toughest question is how they are planning to return the 6 months time spent by Justice Karnan in jail.
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Like +0 Object -0 s 15 Jan 18, 10:02
not one commentator has raised the issue regarding to goint to press than seeking remedial step - does it mean that the President has no power to caution the authorities. if at all there was genuine issue these could have approached the President of India and not meet Mr. D. Raja the Hon'ble leader of CPM. of course the SC Judges are most educated and experienced andman on street like me cannot understand but definitely meeting a political leader has something to do with the issues than .....
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Like +5 Object -0 Unsung 15 Jan 18, 12:30  interesting
Not one news channel is covering the comparison between 4 judges rebellion and justice karnan.
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Like +0 Object -0 NetaG 15 Jan 18, 16:40
Repeating my comment since you didn't publish it the first time:

Justice Chelameshwar is NOT in line to be CJI - his term expires before Justice Misra's. Justice Gogoi is next in line to be CJI. Please correct the article.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 15 Jan 18, 16:57
Thanks, you're right of course, had missed that!

Sorry, the first comment you posted did not arrive for some reason :(

Have updated the story.

Here's a fun diagram about the next successions at the SC.

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Like +1 Object -0 Pi 16 Jan 18, 15:49
american model of SC is better, full court for each case, most appeals terminate at state SCs. We should allow for second appeal to lie in HC, rather than to SC. Break the Delhi clique
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