UNDER PRESSURE after the letters from Justices Jasti Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph about the government’s role in stalling appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is understood to have informed two of his colleagues that he is working to address the concerns. Sources told The Indian Express that CJI Misra informally met Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph on Wednesday and indicated that he was looking into the issues pertaining to the apex court. The meeting, which lasted for half-an-hour, followed the inauguration of the gymnasium in the Supreme Court premises by the CJI.
Without referring to the letters or naming any individuals whose appointments have been stalled, CJI Misra is learnt to have informed his two colleagues of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Sources said the CJI spoke to Modi at a meeting to discuss the Lokpal selection committee.
Justices Gogoi and Joseph are both members of the collegium for selection of judges for the Supreme Court, and were among the four Supreme Court judges who went public with their letter to the CJI, over various issues pertaining to the functioning of the court, at a press conference in January. The other two judges, Justices Chelameswar and Madan Lokur, were not present during the informal meeting on Wednesday evening.
While there is a traditional lunch meeting of all judges of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, sources said there was no discussion on the matter during that meeting.
The CJI’s informal meeting on Wednesday follows two strongly worded letters and a public speech by his senior colleagues in recent days, after no action was initiated by him on the issues raised at the January press conference. According to sources, other judges also exhorted the CJI to raise the issue of pending appointments with the government during collegium meetings last month. Highlighting the case of pending elevation of a judicial officer to the Karnataka High Court despite the collegium’s reiteration, Justice Chelameswar had written a letter last month on government interference in appointment of judges to the high court, and demanded a full court to discuss the matter.
At a public event for Harvard Club of India last week, Justice Chelameswar spoke on the same issue, besides pointing to the delay on the part of the government in finalising the Memorandum of Procedure that will govern the interaction between the Supreme Court collegium and the Executive.
As reported by The Indian Express, Justice Joseph, in a letter to the CJI on Monday, asked him to respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the collegium’s recommendation to elevate a High Court Chief Justice and a senior advocate to the apex court. Stating that the “very life and existence” of the Supreme Court is under threat and “history will not pardon us,” he asked the CJI to form a bench of seven senior most judges to suo motu hear the matter.
In his letter, Justice Kurian also warned that “the dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day since we are not able to take the recommendations for appointment to this Court to their logical conclusion within the normally expected times”.
He said that “if there is no normal delivery on completion of the gestation period, what is urgently done is a Caesarean section. Unless such a surgical intervention is made at an appropriate time, the child in the womb dies.”
According to sources, CJI Misra is yet to send a formal response to the two letters, which were also sent to all the Supreme Court judges by Justices Chelameswar and Joseph.