THE SUPREME Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Saturday demanded that all PILs, including the one seeking a probe into the death of Special CBI Judge B H Loya — who had been hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case — should be heard by the Chief Justice of India or any of the other four top judges who comprise the Supreme Court Collegium.
Announcing the resolutions adopted at an “emergent meeting” of its executive committee, SCBA president and senior advocate Vikas Singh said: “It is unanimously resolved by the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association that all PIL matters, including the pending PIL matters, should be either taken up by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, or, if he has to assign to any other Bench, it should be assigned to the judges in the Collegium. Even the matters listed on Monday, 15th January, 2018, should be transferred as per our request.”
Asked if this meant the SCBA found substance in the objections raised by the four senior judges — Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — regarding allocation of cases to junior judges by CJI Dipak Misra, Singh said such allocation of work had been done in the past too. For instance, the 2G case was allocated to Justice G S Singhvi when he was the 11th Judge (in seniority), said Singh.
The SCBA also said the differences expressed by the judges at the press conference were of “grave concern” and “should be immediately considered by the Full Court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court”. SCBA president Singh said they would meet the CJI and the four judges, and added that the matter should be sorted out by them, behind closed doors.
Asked about the Loya PIL, he said the SCBA would not comment on individual matters as it was not privy to what happened in the cases.
The petition in the Loya case is currently being heard by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Mohan M Shantanagoudar, and is due to come up for hearing on January 15. However, since Justice Shantanagoudar won’t be available, the matters listed for that day will be taken up on January 16.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Bar Council of India (BCI) said the judges going public with their grievances was “not good” for the judicial system.
BCI Chairman Manan Mishra said: “Judges coming out in the media is not good for the judicial system. We will talk about the issue raised in the letter with the individual judges and then seek an opinion on the issue. After that, we will meet the four judges who held the press conference. After listening to them, we will meet the CJI. The aim is to resolve the issue.”
He said the BCI had formed a seven-member delegation to first meet the 20 Supreme Court judges to discuss the issues raised in the letter made public by the four judges on Friday. The delegation will start meeting the judges individually from Sunday.
The BCI also appealed to parties not to politicise the current issue. “The fact that there is a debate on television on the rift between the judges is unfortunate. People have started pointing fingers at the judiciary now. Such opportunity should not be given to anyone,” he said.