'Protect Supreme Court docket, shield democracy'

Mukul Mudgal

SC judges issue: Bar Association to meet today

Four justices of India's top court yesterday criticised its distribution of cases to judges and raised concerns about judicial appointments, in an unprecedented public airing of problems at one of the country's most respected institutions. "By politicising the issue, the Congress has exposed itself". We discussed the contents of the letter. "It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference". However, in a remarkable co-incidence, senior advocate Dushyant Dave pointed out in lucid detail what some of these incidents could be in an article (http://www.livelaw.in/chief-justice-india-law/) published a day before the tumultuous events.

"A day after four senior most judges of the Supreme Court accusing CJI of allocating of cases with far-reaching consequences to select benches, the SCBA, as an immediate solution, urged the CJI to assign all PILs â€" even those put for hearing on January 15 â€" to the court of first five judges including the CJI.

Four senior judges of India's Supreme Court have complained publicly about the way the court is being run and cases are assigned. Ranjan Gogoi's participation in the country's legal history was particularly notable - he was/is (as of now) slated to take up the role of the Chief Justice of India following Justice Dipak Misra's tenure. "No wise man after 20 years should say that we - Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur, and Joseph - sold our souls", he said. What the judges said at the press conference gave out an alarming impression to the common man that many cases are not dealt with honesty, that the judges who preside over such cases face threat to their lives, and that there are moves from many quarters to shield the accused. "We hope they won't allow the issue to escalate".

The major concern of the SC judges is that they have alleged a sort of monarchy in bench allotment in Supreme Court and have written to the Chief Justice Dipak Misra regarding the same two months back. Four of its senior-most judges took on the Chief Justice of India in a public platform over the handling of court procedures - a display of dissent unheard of in the Indian judiciary.

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The writer is a lawyer in the Supreme Court and the High Court. "Now if the sitting judges of the Supreme Court can hold a press conference, it can be a lot easier for a low-rank judge like the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to hold a press conference against any district's magistrate or any regulatory body".

As the matter on MoP resulted from a decision of the Constitution Bench in 2016, the letter said, "It is hard to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter....any issue with regard to MoP should be discussed in the Chief Justices' Conference and by the Full Court".

"Referring to the Union government's statement that the issue is an internal one of the judiciary, Mishra said that the Bar Council 'appreciates the government's stand". Also in question is the case of Kalikho Pul, the former chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh who died of suicide allegedly because of demands made on him by certain judges who he had named in a suicide note, for giving a favourable judgement in his case. "As a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, I feel devastated", he said.

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