In an unprecedented turn of events, four top Supreme Court judges held a press conference in New Delhi on Friday and released a letter they had written to the Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra. Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph said there was an urgent need to preserve the judiciary system to save the democracy of the country.
Here is a brief profile of the four judges who addressed the press conference:
Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court after the CJI, was elevated as Supreme Court judge on October 11, 2011. He served as judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and later as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court and the Kerala High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court.
The sixty-four-year-old judge was the only judge in the Bench who ruled in favour of the government in the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act case where the court declared the NJAC Act unconstitutional. He was also a part of the Bench that struck down 66A of the IT Act.
Justice Chelameswar is set to retire on June 22, 2018. He was part of the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court that had in August ruled that Indians enjoy a fundamental right to privacy, that it is intrinsic to life and liberty and thus comes under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Justice Ranjan Gogoi is the 3rd seniormost judge in the apex court. He is in line to become the Chief Justice of India after Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s retirement on October 2 this year. Justice Gogoi has served as judge of Gauhati High Court and later Chandigarh High Court before being elevated to Supreme Court in April 2012.
Justice Madan Lokur
Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur, appointed as Supreme Court judge on June 4, 2012, is the fourth seniormost judge of the Supreme Court. Before being elevated as a judge in the apex court, he served as acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, and later Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Justice Lokur’s profile on apex court’s website says he has interest in judicial reforms, computerisation of courts, and is the judge in charge of E-committee of the Supreme Court of India.
Justice Lokur was also part of the division bench that quashed the government’s order to grant 4.5% sub-quota to minorities carved out of 27% OBC reservation.
While acting as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Lokur suspended and ordered the prosecution of CBI judge T Pattabhirama Rao in a mining corruption case. He retires on December 30, 2018.
Justice Kurian Joseph
Justice Kurian Joseph was elevated to the Supreme Court on March 8, 2013. Elevated as a judge to Kerala High Court in 2000, Justice Joseph has served twice as acting chief justice of Kerala High Court. He served as Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court before being appointed as judge of the Supreme Court.
Justice Joseph was part of the high profile delegation to the Vatican City to attend the canonisation of Mother Teresa in 2016. Justice Joseph, along with Justices Anil R Dave and Amitava Roy constituted the Bench which heard the controversial Italian Marines case. Justice Joseph is set to retire on November 29 this year.
He was a part of the five-judge Supreme Court bench that held triple talaq as “unconstitutional”. In a 397-page ruling, though two judges upheld validity of Instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat), the three other judges held that it was unconstitutional, thus barring the practice by 3–2 majority.