The four Supreme Court judges, who last week made public their grievances against Chief Justice Dipak Misra, met late Wednesday evening with two other Supreme Court judges and finalised a proposal which they hope will break the current impasse, sources told The Indian Express.
The proposal, expected to be handed over to the CJI Thursday, deals with formalising a “rational, orderly and transparent system” to allocate cases to different benches of the Supreme Court.
Its details were not available but sources said the idea is to insulate the roster from allegations of favour.
This meeting came at the end of a day when “Court Number 2” of the Supreme Court did not function due to “the unavailability” of Justice J Chelameswar who took the day off.
Result: a meeting, which had been decided on Tuesday morning, between the four judges (Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph) and Chief Justice Misra could not be held.
Instead, a meeting took place of the four judges at the residence of Justice Madan Lokur. Also present were Justice U U Lalit and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
This proposal to the Chief Justice — who at the behest of three other colleagues, had taken the initiative to invite the four senior judges to his chamber on Tuesday morning — concerns a reformed system the judges feel needs to be put in place to dispel questions over the manner in which certain cases are being allocated.
If the CJI is open to consider this central point, sources said, it is believed that the four judges are willing to take the discussion forward.
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Sources said the CJI had so far “not made any proposal of his own.”
Earlier in the evening, around 4.15 pm, members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had met the CJI and discussed a range of housekeeping issues including a suggestion to have “a roster of allotment of matters, like in the Delhi High Court.”
Interestingly, Justice Misra was Chief in the Delhi HC when he was elevated to the apex court.
The Supreme Court, unlike the case in smaller countries, constitutes several benches which hear matters and there has been a practice of cases being assigned to benches “as per their expertise.”
For example, judges regularly dealing with criminal matters are expected to get criminal cases. And, in the formation of Constitution benches of five judges or more, the five seniormost judges were usually included. A system looking at randomised allocation of cases would also take away any charge of “selecting” a particular bench.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s weekly lunch of the full Supreme Court (all judges) was not a complete one as three judges, Justices Chelameswar, Sharad Bobde and Adarsh Goel were absent. Before the meeting, Justice Gogoi dropped by Justice Chelameswar’s home to look him up.