Judicial crisis could end by weekend as CJI reaches out to 4 rebel judges

Topics Supreme Court

Justice Dipak Mishra (Photo: PTI)
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today reached out to the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court in a bid to defuse the unprecedented row over allocation of cases and other issues amid fresh hopes of a resolution by the weekend.

As the crisis that rocked the apex court appeared to linger on, court sources said the CJI met the four dissenting judges - Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph - for 15 minutes and discussed all issues raised by them at their press conference on January 12. The issues included the allocation of sensitive and important Public Interest Litigations(PILs).

The first face-to-face interaction between the two sides after the press conference took place in a lounge in the apex court premises where judges meet each other informally over tea or coffee before proceeding towards their respective courts at 10.30 am.

But no details were available on whether the differences have narrowed down or any solution worked out on the issues raised by the four judges. Justice Misra is likely to have another meeting with the four judges tomorrow.

However, one of the issues sought to be raised by the four judges appeared to have been addressed when a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar in its order during the hearing in the Loya case today said, "Put up before the appropriate bench." The death of special CBI judge B H Loya had drawn intense attention as the judge was earlier hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

The case, whose assignment to the bench hearing the PILs, was a bone of contention at the joint press conference by the four judges.

While the CJI was meeting the four judges, other judges were also present, including the one who has been the target of some activist lawyers for dealing with some of the recent sensitive PILs.

Sources said that the judges also expressed concern over the media coverage in the aftermath of the January 12 presser.

There was a general feeling among the judges that when efforts are being made to resolve the crisis, there was a need for a careful reporting of the issue.

Sources said some of the judges who are presently junior in seniority have openly expressed their displeasure against the four judges for making public their grievances without deliberating the issues in house.

Four days after the crisis erupted, the corridors of the Supreme Court were abuzz with all types of speculation after Attorney General K K Venugopal earlier in the day said that the crisis has not been fully resolved.

"I think it (crisis) has not been settled. Lets hope things will be fully settled within 2-3 days", Attorney General K K Venugopal told PTI.

He had asserted yesterday that "everything has been settled" and described the crisis as a "storm in a tea cup." The Bar Council of India had declared "kahani khatam (story is over)" in describing the crisis that erupted on Friday when four senior-most judges launched a virtual revolt against Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

At an unprecedented press conference, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph openly castigated the functioning of the top court.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh today said there was a likelihood of the crisis being resolved by the end of this week.

"By the end of this week the crisis is likely to be resolved," he told PTI.

Singh said that when he had handed over the SCBA resolution to the CJI on Sunday, he had got the impression that the crisis would be resolved. Singh said the CJI was hopeful that within a week things will return to normalcy.

In its emergency meeting on Saturday, the SCBA had passed a resolution asking the chief justice to convene a full court meeting of the apex court judges and transfer all pending PILs for hearing before the five senior-most judges who are members of the collegium.

Venugopal, the attorney general, also hoped that things will be sorted out in the next few days.

Asked whether he had a meeting or if he spoke with any of the four judges or the CJI, Venugopal said, "Nothing of that sort has happened".

At the press conference, the four judges had flagged certain problems, including the assigning of cases by the CJI, and said there were certain issues afflicting the country's highest court.

On Sunday, CJI Misra met a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India and SCBA's Singh, and had reportedly assured them that the crisis would be sorted out soon and congeniality would prevail.

Today, the Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra continued to maintain that there was "absolutely no crisis now.

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