A day after four of the most senior Supreme Court judges spoke out against the Chief Justice of India, especially over allocation of cases, former Law Minister M Veerappa Moily on Saturday said the CJI has to “realise his responsibility”, call the judges for a discussion and resolve the “conflict”. He said it is high time “whatever has gone wrong they set it right within themselves.”
Meanwhile, DMK working president M K Stalin said that President Ram Nath Kovind should intervene if the judges could not resolve the issues, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked the NDA government not to interfere in the tussle. Sena is a constituent of the NDA. Thackeray said the four judges needed to be lauded and argued that “attempts are being made to make the judiciary deaf and dumb”.
Attacking the BJP government, disgruntled BJP leader Yashwant Sinha asked his party colleagues and ministers to “get rid of their fear” and “speak up for democracy” like the four Supreme Court judges.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Moily said the Supreme Court is grappling with an unprecedented crisis. He said the four judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — are important judges with impeccable character and integrity. And they are members of the Supreme Court Collegium.
“The Collegium is an important, crucial body which takes decisions, whether it is Memorandum of Procedure or appointment of judges or disciplinary action… so that itself is a very big crisis which is unprecedented in nature. That too, mainly on the issue of Judge (B H) Loya, who died under suspicious circumstances. Even though the CJI is the master of the roster in posting cases and all… but they also work with a collective democratic principle. But here that collective wisdom itself is lost, which means… this is a real, steep judicial crisis,” Moily said.
“It has to be resolved within the judiciary without any outside interference… I think it is high time the CJI immediately take the call and ensure that the things are brought in order… Otherwise, the outside forces tend to disturb the autonomy of the judiciary and …. we should not allow that to happen,” he said.
Asked whether he feels the government had interfered, which resulted in the crisis, he said, “The very fact that some atmosphere is created by this present government by not appointing judges, not allowing the MoP to go ahead… promotions of more than 6-7 chief justices… they have not been posted on a regular basis… they are on acting basis. Unprecedented number of judges’ posts (vacant) in the High Courts and also in the Supreme Court reflect the fact that there is some blockade which has been created by the NDA environment… The judiciary may tolerate for some time… Ultimately this kind of an explosion can take place.”
Asked whether he thinks the judges came out because they think there was government interference, he said, “It looks like that. The very statement that they have given goes to show that there is some hand by which things have gone from bad to worse.” Sinha said, “If four seniormost Supreme Court judges say (that) democracy is under threat, we have to take their words very seriously…. Every citizen who feels for democracy should speak up. I will ask party (BJP) leaders and senior cabinet ministers to speak up. I will appeal to them to get rid of their fears and speak up.” Sinha, however, said it was for the apex court to sort out the crisis.
Sinha said he was “personally aware of the fear in which members of the cabinet in this government are working, and that also is a threat to democracy”. In Chennai, Stalin said, “In case, if a stage comes wherein judges could not resolve the issue, President Kovind should intervene and resolve it.” The judges of the top court, he said, should hold dialogue and make efforts to resolve the issue to safeguard democracy.
In Mumbai, Thackeray, said, “The decision of those (four) judges should be lauded. There is a possibility that there will be an inquiry against them but this inquiry should be unbiased.” “The government should not interfere in this. Let the judiciary do its work,” he said, adding that there should be an investigation into judge Loya’s death.