Judges vs CJI: Govt shouldn’t interfere, CJI should resolve, say former CJIs

Saying he was “pained” by the developments, former Chief Justice R M Lodha questioned how such an issue could have remained pending for two months.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2018 7:40 am
Supreme Court judges target Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heads home on Friday (PTI Photo)

Expressing “shock” over the unprecedented press conference Friday by the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justices of India said the government should not “interfere” in the matter, and that the CJI should “resolve the crisis with statesmanship”.

Saying he was “pained” by the developments, former Chief Justice R M Lodha questioned how such an issue could have remained pending for two months.

“I am disturbed by today’s development. What happened today is unfortunate and painful for a person who presided over an institution like the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the letter (made public) reveals that certain grievances were raised by the most senior four judges about two months ago. Obviously, the Chief Justice ought to have discussed it with them and addressed those issues. Ultimately, CJI, being leader of the institution, has to show statesmanship and ensure that grievances are resolved. There is no role for the executive. This matter is exclusively within the judiciary and should be resolved within the judiciary,” Justice Lodha told The Indian Express.

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“The important thing is that the institution is bigger than the individual. And all of them should collaborate and collectively ensure that no further damage is done. And the issues that have been raised should be resolved by the CJI. It goes without saying that the CJI is the master of the roster but transparency is always maintained. But if there was a very specific issue raised in this regard – that had to be discussed and resolved… the issue should not have remained pending for two months. The way forward is that they must sit together and openly discuss the issue. They should be no constraint and they should collectively find a solution,” Justice Lodha said.

Former CJI K G Balakrishnan said the press conference Friday will “erode the credibility” of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the people, and that if the crisis continues, it will “cut the root of democracy”.

Supreme Court judges target Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Jasti Chelameswar, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph address the press in New Delhi on Friday (Express Photo/Abhinav Saha)

“It is a very unfortunate situation. No other top court in the world has acted in this way. If at all there was any problem, they should have discussed and sorted it out. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land. They are the top most judges of the country. If at all there were differences, they should have discussed the problems. What is the use of taking it to the public? Public has no role in the functioning of judges. Ultimately, it will erode the credibility of the this great institution. Any erosion of the people’s faith (in the Supreme Court) will cut the root of democracy,” he said.

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“The CJI is the master of the roster. But there are moral and ethical issues that have to be kept in mind (by the CJI). The decision should not be motivated. It should be with a clear mind. I don’t know why the suspicion arose in the mind of these judges about allocation of work. The executive cannot interfere in the matter. At the most, the Attorney General can express his views as he is the leader of the Bar,” Justice Balakrishnan said.

Former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas said judges holding press a conference “should not become a precedent” and if the “executive is reasonably wise enough” it should keep away from the crisis.

“This is a very unusual and unprecedented step (by judges) to hold a press conference, highlighting something against the Chief Justice. I hope this will not become a precedent. This is a matter that should have been resolved in the full court meeting. Everyday judges meet and this (issue) can be raised there,” he said.

“The CJI is the master of the roster and it is a time-tested convention among constitutional courts. His power is like that of a captain of a team. To say that some cases should be allocated to one judge and not another judge – I don’t understand. How can one judge be disqualified from hearing any case? This dispute should be resolved by the full court. And if an executive is reasonably wise enough, they should keep away from it. This is an internal matter of the Supreme Court,” Justice Thomas said.

Former Attorney General K Parasaran said, “It is a very sad day for me. I never thought I will come across such a situation in my 67 years at the Bar. The judges are there to resolve disputes of all others – but there is no court to resolve their disputes. The matter should have been resolved by judges in a full court. There are other methods that could have sorted this out. It has caused a dent in the image of the Supreme Court.”

ENS adds: Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave said: “It is not everyday that four senior judges react in this unprecedented manner. It is clear that they have done so after much thought and much pain. They probably felt that they had no option but to do so.”

“We have become a nation of compromisers, of lying low, of not standing up and speaking the truth. But these four judges have shown us that it is still possible to stand up and be counted. That is the important thing,” he said.

Former Solicitor General Soli Sorabjee told the India Today news channel: “The public shouldn’t see that the judiciary is a divided house.”

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  1. Proud Bhakt
    Jan 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm
    All the 4 judges should be impeached for damaging the image of the Supreme Court , And Prime Minister Modiji should be appointed as the new Chief Justice of India . He will easily clear all the pending cases within a few months .
    1. Mark S
      Jan 13, 2018 at 5:54 pm
      yes, like the way Modi has deposited 15L in all our savings accounts
      1. Ramachandran Narayan
        Jan 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm
        You are true to your name absolute Bhakt. What will Modi do sitting as a judge. He is now compared to God. I think that is the root of all problems in this country.
        1. Proud Bhakt
          Jan 13, 2018 at 6:10 pm
          Honorable PM Shri Modiji knows more about Law than all these stupid Judges combined. He will give much better judgements and he will also clear the pending cases in record time. Already Modiji has single-handedly transformed the Indian economy in just 3.5 years.
      2. Toshi Jamir
        Jan 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm
        As conscious citizens, we need to know, the unavoidable factor or circumstances prompted the four respected judged to open their mouth in the public sphere. One only come to realise that by lately PM and his close associate which includes, few cabinets, business people and RSS people, have interfered in almost all the ins utions that survived for decades as independent bodies. Very sad event unfolding to public..
        1. Arun Kumar
          Jan 13, 2018 at 5:07 pm
          If Govt does any wrong things then SC comes to rectify it then why not Govt should not come forward and rectify mistake committed by four judges, coming to people's court and raised their voice against CJI in Public.Public suspects division among SC Judges on the political party line which is dangerous to Democracy and Independent Judiciary
          1. Ramachandran Narayan
            Jan 13, 2018 at 6:07 pm
            Govt has no role to Play as Judiciary is independent of the Govt. When Govts. try and exceed their brief we are resented with such problems.
          2. Shachin Trivedi
            Jan 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm
            each and every member of presen supreme court shoud resign. first 4 these lords because they dragged SC on road. CJI because these 4 think he is not capable to preside . all others because according to 4 lords ,they have no own judgement capacity as they deliver judgement according to will of CJI. it is strange that these 4 lords think that all lords are children who can be pushed by any person .
            1. Ramachandran Narayan
              Jan 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm
              Talk something sensible and cogent.
            2. Parth Garg
              Jan 13, 2018 at 4:19 pm
              These 4 judges have stretched the theory of CJI being only first among the equals too far. The damage to the credibility of the ins ution is already done.
              1. Ramachandran Narayan
                Jan 13, 2018 at 6:09 pm
                The CJI obviously has taken an upper hand and not solved the problems forcing them to go Public.
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