Four senior judges open rift with India's chief justice

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2018

Exposing a rift with Chief Justice Dipak Misra, some of the Supreme Court's most senior judges told a news conference the issues involving its administration were serious enough to prompt them to go public.

# Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to address the media at 2 pm, Attorney General to also accompany him.

"Since all our efforts failed". They also said that he is acting as a political agent of ruling political party. That judge - Justice B.H. Loya - was trying Amit Shah, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, in a criminal case. The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order.

Justice Gogoi, accompanied by three other senior judges of the apex court, levelled various allegations of abuse of power and bench-fixing by the incumbent CJI. The case was treated as a petition thereby raising more suspicions. India's Central Bureau of Investigation, the main federal investigative agency, arrested a retired high court judge on charges of demanding bribes and assuring that he could get a case settled through Supreme Court "contacts".

"No doubt, the Chief Justice of India is the master of the roster, but there are systems and precedents and conventions that have to be followed in a constitutional manner..."

The move spells far-reaching implications for jurists and politicians in the chaotic South Asian democracy where the Supreme Court often sets the agenda on matters of policy and orders measures taken in the public interest.

Having said that, the way the apex court has functioned in the recent past has been far from flawless; today's events has put it beyond doubt that all is not well at the very top of the judiciary.

When media repeatedly asked the same question, Justice Gogoi said, "Yes".

While the justices were holding their press conference, the controversial case was briefly heard before it was adjourned. Justice Lokur also had brief stints at Gauhati High Court and Andhra Pradesh High Court as a Chief Justice, before he became a Supreme Court judge in 2012. Some senior advocates like K T S Tulsi said there could have been some "compelling" reasons for the four judges to lay bare their differences.

Early this week, the CJI recused himself from a case related to attaching the properties of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Minister P Chidambaram, in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal case and sent it to the bench headed by Justice Mishra.

CPI leader D Raja, who created controversy by visiting Justice Chelameshawr at his home, tried to play down the episode by saying he knew the judge for a times.

Replying to queries on what actually the issue was, Justice Chelameswar said: "About a couple of months back, four of us senior judges wrote a signed letter to the Chief Justice".

The institution wields enormous influence in the South Asian nation and has in the past revoked laws passed by the parliament that it regarded as infringing upon citizens' rights.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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