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Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2018

Democracy in India is at stake Says senior Supreme Court judges

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 fourscjudges-1515749324NEW DELHI :Supreme Court judges Kurian Joseph, J.Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan Lokur addressed the media on Friday and pointed out ‘several irregularities happening within the apex court’. Putting forth their opinions in the public domain for the first time, one of the judges, Justice J Chelameswar, said “four of us are convinced that for the survival of democracy, an impartial judge and judiciary is needed.
Justice Chelameswar himself described as an “extraordinary event” the news conference during which he said “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.” Unless this institution is preserved, “democracy will not survive” in this country.  He said all the four judges “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,” he said.

Four senior judges of the Supreme Court today mounted a virtual revolt against the chief justice, listing a litany of problems that they said are afflicting the country’s highest court and warned they could destroy Indian democracy. The unprecedented move at a joint news conference by the four judges including Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior judge after the Chief Justice of India, left the judiciary and observers stunned.They went public with complaints against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The “rebel” judges  said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”.

Democracy in India is at stake, said four senior Supreme Court judges today as  An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, they said. Asked if they believed the Chief Justice should be impeached, they said, “Let the nation decide.”Sources in the government say that the explosive trading of charges today is being seen as “an internal matter of the judiciary” on the administration of the Supreme Court and the government sees no reason for it to intervene.
The judges have blown the lid off a growing rift with Chief Justice Dipak Misra at their news conference, the first of its kind ever held by sitting judges of the top court. “The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country,” Justice J Chelameswar said on the lawns of his residence. He is the second most-senior judge of the Supreme Court.

The judges said that their concerns include cases of “far-reaching consequences” being allocated without transparency. Judges alleging “selective assignment of cases to preferred judges” and that “sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges”. The Chief Justice has not responded. Sources in the Supreme Court said: “Every Judge is equal and regarded as independent. All cases are fairly distributed to judges in the Supreme Court.”

Judges said repeated attempts to alert the Chief Justice to their concerns – including a meeting with him this morning – had failed to make any progress which is why they decided to voice their complaints publicly.When asked if their complaints include the case of the death of a CBI judge, BH Loya, “yes” said Justice Gogoi. He however declined to elaborate.
Asked what these issues were, he said they included the “allocation of cases by CJI”. The remarks assume significance as the Supreme Court today took up for consideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge BH Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Justice Chelameswar said “we owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution.” Asked whether they wanted the Chief Justice to be impeached, Justice Chelameswar said, “let the nation decide.”
Judge Loya was hearing a case that accused BJP president Amit Shah of murder when he died in Nagpur in December 2014. His family has alleged that his death was unnatural and came after he was offered 100 crores as a bribe to rule in favour of the BJP leader. Medical records show Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest. Within weeks of his death, Amit Shah was acquitted. The Supreme Court has been asked to order an independent inquiry into Judge Loya’s death. This morning, the case was assigned to a bench that does not include the four senior judges who held today’s press conference.
judges rubbished questions on whether they have broken ranks and said that they will start doing things which they do. Justice Gogoi said: “nobody is breaking the rank.” Gogoi, who would be succeeding Misra as CJI in October this year, said that, “it’s a discharge of debt to the nation which we have done.”
Soon after the News conference ended, the CJI called Attorney General K K Venugopal for a meeting, court sources said. Highly placed government sources said the issues raised by the four judges are an “internal” matter of the judiciary, indicating that the government is unlikely to interfere.(With Agency Inputs).



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