The real problem with Justice Chelameswar and how he missed the CJI bus thrice
Justice J Chelameswar and three other judges of the Supreme Court came out in the open to criticise the Chief Justice of India for the manner in which cases were being allocated.
The judges said that democracy was at stake and hence they had to come out in the open. The move has received mixed reactions, but a majority in the legal fraternity felt that this was a matter best resolved within the four walls of the Supreme Court.
Justice Chelameswar has been vocal in the past about the functioning of the collegium. He has voiced his opinion several times in the past and has refrained from attending meetings of the collegium. The question now is what really is his problem with the collegium.
Justice Chelameswar has not been lucky when it came to seniority. He has been robbed of his chance of becoming the Chief Justice of India. He was appointed as judge of the High Court on June 23 1997. This appointment was in fact made after Justice Dipak Misra and Justice J S Khehar were appointed judges of the HC.
While Justice Misra was appointed as HC judge on January 17 1996 in the case of Justice Khehar it was February 8 1999. Justice Chelameswar went on to become the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on May 3 2007. Justices Misra and Khehar became CJs on December 23 2009 and November 29 2009 respectively.
If one looks at the above mentioned dates, then Justice Chelameswar is senior compared to the other two judges. However Justice Khehar was appointed as SC judge on September 13 2011, Justice Chelameswar and Justice Misra were appointed SC judges a month later. However Justice Misra took oath as SC judge before Justice Chelameswar did. This meant that Justice Misra became senior to Justice Chelameswar in the Supreme Court.
Had the appointment of Justice Chelameswar taken place as per the HC seniority, then he would have taken oath as the Chief Justice of India immediately after Justice T S Thakur retired on January 4 2017. After Justice Thakur retired, Justice Khehar took over as the CJI. Justice Khehar was succeeded by Justice Misra on August 28 2017.