Judges versus CJI: Govt steers clear, BJP says Congress out to politicise crisis

A-G says could have been avoided, ministers silent, BJP spokesperson takes a swipe at Opposition

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2018 8:00 am
Justice Kurian Joseph, Supreme couirt, SC judges revot, SC judges meet, CJI, Dipak Misra, Chief justice of india, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, India news, Indian express news BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra addressed the media (Express Photo: Pradeep Kumar)

The move by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court to go public with complaints against the institution has left the government and the BJP “shocked”, but leaders remained tight-lipped on Friday, maintaining that the government and the ruling party are “consciously keeping aloof” from the developments.

Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad as well as lawyers in the BJP did not want to comment on the unprecedented press conference by Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

Both the government and the party maintained that they should not join the issue as it would be seen as “taking sides” of either the four judges or Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and it would be “dangerous”, considering that the CJI’s term will end only in October. Besides, Justice Gogoi, considered to be Mishra’s successor, is at the other side.

“We are not even called for (taking a stand)…. Our statement will be uncalled for in this situation,” said a government functionary. Another source said the government would like to maintain a distance and prefer the judiciary to resolve the matter internally.

Read | Govt cautious, Opposition weighs options, says probe issues

“The government does not want to respond. The judiciary is independent. They will have to resolve it themselves,” the government functionary said.

“No one (of the four judges) said a word against the government,” was the common refrain from the ruling establishment about their silence on this development.

Officially, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra slammed the Congress for “trying to politicise the issue”, which he said is “pertaining to the administrative and interior issues of the judiciary”. He told the media, “The Supreme Court judges have raised some interior issues pertaining to the administrative domain of the court…. India is known for its democratic character and under the constitutional structure, the judiciary has a strong and independent role. Some parties are trying to politicise the issues raised by the judges. It’s not proper.”

He said, “We are surprised and sad by the attempts of the Congress, which has been rejected by electorate in election after election, to get itself into the issue. This has exposed the Congress before the people of India.”

A section in the BJP seemed to be keen on projecting the judges’ decision as politically motivated. But the top leaders refused to comment on it.

Read | SC Judges raised important concerns, stop selective case assigning: Congress

After the press conference by the judges got over, Attorney-General K K Venugopal, said that the move “could have been avoided”, and that the judges will now have to act in “statesmanship” to ensure complete harmony.

Venugopal, who had a meeting with Chief Justice Misra after the press conference, expressed hope that all judges, including the CJI, would rise to the occasion and “wholly neutralise” the “divisiveness”.

He said, “What has happened today could have been avoided. The judges will now have to act with statesmanship and ensure that the divisiveness is wholly neutralised and total harmony and mutual understanding will prevail in future,” he said. “This is what all of us at the bar want, and I am sure that the judges, including the CJI, will rise to the occasion.”

Venugopal declined to divulge details of his deliberations with the CJI and others.

Sources in government pointed out that there had been issues in judiciary in the past as well, and referred to tussles between Justice Y V Chandrachud and his successor, Justice P N Bhagwati, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And then between Justice A M Ahmadi and Justice Kuldip Singh in the 1990s, they pointed out. But BJP leaders viewed the development as “indiscipline” rather than a “rebellion”.

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  1. Pappalil Prabhakaran
    Jan 13, 2018 at 10:05 am
    Is it judiciary Indiscipline playing out and Opposition playing football...
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    1. Suhas Gha
      Jan 13, 2018 at 8:34 am
      Sharam nahi vatat? Arthat nangeko kis bat ki sharam. When judges can put their opinion in public, why congress cant. And for your information, if u read congress statement on the issue, it had been very composed showing their concern. Is it wrong to show concern? Tell us a single line from congress or even rahul taking political advantage. I can imagine if bjp been in opposition the scene. Every tom and harry from bjp would have jumped and started dancing necked. Necked to tum log ho hi. Itni besharam party kabhi dekhi nahi hai. Only a person like u trys to find out something from whatever congress says. And tell us, why u are so much concerned about a statement from pappu or from a party, which in the openion of 56 inch cheast is already wiped out. Every political party and personalities made comment including ex cjis. But why r u targeting only so called insignificant and wiped out party. And by making comments on congress statement, u are politicising issue.
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      1. Manoj
        Jan 13, 2018 at 7:40 am
        I wonder what the BJP would have done if the Congress were in power when this fiasco happened. Would Mr. Patra kept silent! I can wager that he would not. Their 180 degree turn on GST and Aadhar proves this beyond doubt. Mr. Patra's rants are by and large vulgar, bereft of collegiality and courtesy all in all he is the very an hesis of ethical principles of a doctor, a profession which he chose to graduate in. He better abandon his claim to the profession and continue with partisan politics. By the way, 'poly' means 'many' and 'tics' signifies 'blood sucking parasites'.
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        1. Clement Buck
          Jan 13, 2018 at 8:16 am
          Very well daid
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          1. Suhas Gha
            Jan 13, 2018 at 8:43 am
            I bet my lifes earning. Same 56 incher and his nandibail minister and clowns would have removed cloths and danced and jumped to conclusion. Bjp jitani besharam aur nangi party duniyme nahi hai. And when this 56 incher comes to opposition, he will again rotate in 180 degree on gst and aadhar. This 56 incher, his nandibail ministers, and their jokers are going to distroy this country. It is necessary that not only bjp should be defeated in next election, but his all nandibail ministers should loose their deposit. This party is very very denderous for unity and intigrity of this nation. I am afraid that this 56 incher should not go for some misadventure on border just before election. Recent statements by army chief do not give right signals. But bjp must go in next elections. God bless india. And for 56 incher and his nandibail ministers and clowns, go to the doctor. He will help u. U need mental treatment. And " Get well soon "
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            1. Abraham K
              Jan 13, 2018 at 9:09 am
              In addition to Aadhar and GST, 100 per cent FDI was also a U-turn.
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