History Created: Judges Hold Press Conference Disclosing The Dysfunctional Judiciary

Published on 15 Jan 2018 by Tushar

Never in the history of the institution of judiciary, in any part of the world, have the judges taken such a big step to expose the inside politics of the same institution.

Justice J. Chelameswar, along with justice Ranjan Gogoi, justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph stunned the country when they held a press conference on 12 January 2018 to reveal that the decision-making and administration of the apex court are inappropriate and ‘not in order’ for the last few months.

Justice Chelameswar was quoted as saying: ‘many things which are less than desirable are happening in the last three months. We have certain responsibilities to the nation and to the institution’. It was revealed by them that they have been in constant touch with the chief justice regarding the unpleasant and undesirable consequences arising out of misfunctioning in the apex court. They disclosed how chief justices’ court is misusing the position it is in to disturb the smooth functioning of the judiciary.

The Letter to the CJI:

In a letter to CJI a few months back, they objected that the matters which ought to be heard by the appropriate benches, both composition wise and strength wise, are assigned to other benches as per the discretion of the chief justice. In this regard, they referred to chief justice as the master of the roster, who is just being superior over his colleagues where, in fact, he is on the same pedestal as other judges, though the first one among the equals.

The judges were, therefore, of the view that the chief justice is also accountable for his actions and bound by the time-honoured conventions guiding him to deal with a particular case or the composition thereof.

  • Though the senior judges did not reveal, specifically, in which context they have called for this conference. However, they agreed that CBI judge Loya case is one of the reasons for this big disclosure.
  • They also raised their opinion against the order dated 27 October 2017 in R.P. Luthra vs. Union of India where the finalization of a memorandum of procedure was being observed, though, in fact, it was the subject matter of the constitution bench in Supreme Court AOR association and anr. Vs. union of India (2016.)
  • They also pointed out the error conducted in Re, Hon’ble Shri Justice CS Karnan case (2017) when even on some objections raised by two judges out of the seven judges of the same bench were done away with in a candid way.

Analysis of the scenario:

All these four judges are the senior-most judges (after the chief justice) of the apex court of the country. These judges are also part of the collegium system which is formed to appoint judges of the Supreme Court and the high court.

Justice Chelameswar has been the ‘rebel’ in this collegium system objecting to certain appointments and sometimes, not even attending the meetings for the same. But this time, all the four judges, apart from the chief justice, have raised their voice which gives greater importance to the issue being raised by them.

This bizarre expression of opinion shown by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court was appreciated by many and criticized by some.

While some said that the cause is justified but the way to seek relief was wrong whereas others, like attorney general KK Venugopala, said that the judges will resolve their differences because the judiciary is like a family and there is no politics behind it. However, this has raised several questions on the integrity of the judicial system.

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