Four SC judges come out against CJI, say protect SC to preserve democracy

Topics Supreme Court

Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar along jusctice Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph during a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
In an unprecedented event, four senior sitting judges of the Supreme Court on Friday met the media to complain that the administration of the country's top court was not in order. At a hurriedly called press conference at the residence of Justice J Chelameswar, the No 2 in the apex court hierarchy, they said it was with "no pleasure" that they had been compelled to make public what they were upset with.

"Hallmark of democracy is independent and fair judiciary. We tried to convince Chief Justice that things are not in order. Unfortunately, our attempts failed," said Justice Chelameswar. "It is s with no pleasure that we have been compelled to do this, administration of SC is not in order," he said. "A couple of months back, four of us gave a signed letter to the CJI and we wanted a particular thing to be done in a particular manner. It was done in such a way that it raised further doubt about the integrity of the institution," he added. 

Key takeaways:

Administration of the apex court is 'sometimes not in order' and many 'less than desirable things' have taken place

Save Supreme Court if you want democracy in the country to survive

Corrosion and compromise taking place within the institution of the judiciary and especially within the portals of the Supreme Court

Our efforts have failed in convincing the CJI (Chief Justice of India) to take steps to protect the institution

The hallmark of a good democracy is an independent and impartial judge

Even this morning, the four of us went and met the Chief Justice of India and tried to persuade him to accept that certain things are not in order and that he should take remedial measures. Unfortunately, we couldn't convince him

The other three judges addressing the media today were Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph. The judges said that they will soon release a copy of the letter highlighting their demands. "We are not breaking lines. This is our duty to the nation," Gogoi said. The judges added that it will be business as usual for them on Monday and will go the court as usual.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for the emergency meet after Supreme Court judges spoke against the Chief Justice of India.

Judges J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph also released a seven-page letter that they wrote to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

In the letter to the Chief Justice of India, the judges wrote, "We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this intuition to some extent." 

They further added in the letter that, "It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the Chief Justice is only first amongst the equals- nothing more or nothing less". 

Senior SC advocate KTS Tulsi said he was shocked to know about the development. "It's quite shocking. There must have been compelling reasons for the senior-most judges to have adopted this course of action. One could see pain on their faces while they were speaking," he said.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy defended the judges' move, saying "We can't criticise them, they are men of great integrity and have sacrificed a lot of their legal career, where they could've made money as senior counsels. We must respect them. PM Modi must ensure that the four judges and the Chief Justice, in fact whole SC come to one opinion and proceed further."

Meanwhile, the CJI is set to meet the Attorney General to decide his next move.

#WATCH: Supreme Court Judge J.Chelameswar says, 'All 4 of us are convinced that unless this institution (Supreme Court) is preserved & it maintains its equanimity, democracy will survive in this country, or any country.

— ANI (@ANI) January 12, 2018

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