SCBA expresses 'grave concern' over the differences between judges and CJI
New Delhi, Jan 13: Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four Supreme Court judges who virtually revolted against the chief justice, on Saturday expressed confidence that the issues raised by them would be resolved, while the apex court bar body said the matter should be considered by the full court.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) expressed "grave concern" over the differences of the seniormost judges with CJI Dipak Misra. The SCBA executive committee, which held an emergency meeting, resolved that all public interest litigation (PIL) matters, including the pending PILs, should be either taken up by the CJI or be assigned for adjudication to the four senior judges who were part of the apex court collegium.
Meanwhile, the Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex body of lawyers, formed a seven-member team to meet the judges of the Supreme Court tomorrow to discuss the present crisis in the apex court. It passed a resolution, saying no political party or leaders should take "undue advantage" of the situation arising out of the press conference by the top court judges. In an unprecedented move, justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had launched a public attack against the CJI, listing a litany of problems, including the issue of assigning of cases.
Justice Joseph today said that they acted solely in the interest of the judiciary and justice. He rejected suggestions that they had violated discipline and expressed the hope that their action will bring more transparency in the administration of the Supreme Court.
"Stood up for justice and judiciary...That is what we said there (in New Delhi) yesterday. Nothing beyond that," Justice Joseph said in Malayalam when local television news channels approached him at his ancestral home in Kalady near Kochi, seeking his reaction on yesterday's development.
"An issue has come to attention. It will certainly be solved since it has come to the attention," he said. However, Justice Ranjan Gogoi told PTI in Kolkata, "There is no crisis."
He made the remark on the sidelines of a programme, when asked about the way forward to resolve the crisis. A day after the presser by the four judges, TV visuals today showed prime minister's Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra turning up at the residence of the CJI. The visuals showed Nripendra Misra driving to the CJI's official residence here.
However, the gates were not opened and after waiting for a while, the principal secretary to the prime minister was seen driving back. After the visuals were aired, the Congress was quick to criticise the government.
"As PM's Principal Secretary, Nripendra Misra visits CJI's residence at 5, Krishna Menon Marg; PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to Chief Justice of India," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
SCBA President and senior advocate Vikas Singh said that a resolution for the full court consideration was passed as it is a mechanism in which deliberations by all the judges of the top court takes place in-house and not in the open. The SCBA resolution said that matters listed for hearing in the apex court on January 15 "should also be transferred" from other judges to the five seniormost judges who were part of the collegium. The BCI cautioned the political parties and leaders from taking an "undue advantage" of the situation in the apex court.
It said the four seniormost judges going public with their differences with the CJI had given an opportunity to the political parties and leaders to interfere in the affairs of the judiciary. Without taking any name, BCI chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra said, "No political party or leader should take an undue advantage of the situation arising out of the press conference of the four senior Supreme Court judges."
The reference to political parties and leaders assumes significance as Congress president Rahul Gandhi had yesterday addressed the media after the judges went public with their grievances. At an emergency meeting called by the BCI's governing body, comprising 17 members, the resolution was passed, saying the seven-member committee would meet all the apex court judges tomorrow. Mishra later said that the members of the committee would also meet the four judges and, in the end, the CJI. The BCI said it was of the view that such issues should not be made public.