In a first, four top judges of the Supreme Court — Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph — addressed the media on Friday to declare that “all is not well” with the Supreme Court as they launched a sharp attack on Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for “ignoring the concerns voiced by them”. The judges said they were compelled to take the unprecedented step as they had “no choice” but to communicate the same to the nation. The press conference was held at Justice Chelameswar’s Delhi residence at 4, Tughlak Road.
Underlining they were convinced that democracy will not survive if the institution of judiciary was not protected, they said they have failed to convince Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra about the same.
“All our efforts have failed and we are all convinced that unless this institution is not preserved, democracy can’t be protected in the country,” Justice Chelameswar, who is the second seniormost judge, told the media.
“We met the CJI with a specific request which unfortunately couldn’t convince him that we were right therefore, we were left with no choice except to communicate it to the nation that please take care of the institution,” he said, adding that the four of them were only voicing their personal opinions, and had not discussed it with anyone else.
When asked if he thinks Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra should be impeached, Justice Chelameswar said, “Let the nation decide that.”
Justice Gogoi added, “Nobody is breaking the rank and it is discharge of debt to nation which we have done.”
Without giving any details, Justice Chelameswar further said: “About a couple of months ago, four of us gave a signed letter to the Chief Justice. We wanted a particular thing to be done in a particular manner. It was done, but in such a way that it raised further questions on the integrity of the institution.”
However, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on being asked if the letter was about CBI Judge BH Loya’s alleged mysterious death case, said: “yes.”
On why they chose to hold a press conference, Justice Chelameswar said: “There are many wise men saying many wise things in this country. We don’t want wise men saying 20 years from now that Justice Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph sold their souls and didn’t do the right thing by our Constitution,” he said while signing off.
Significantly, earlier in the day, the Supreme Court sought response from the Maharashtra government on pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge BH Loya who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, PTI has reported. Underlining it to be a “serious” issue, the top court also said, “This matter requires bi-party hearing rather than exparte”.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar asked the Maharasthra government to file a reply by January 15.