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Judges seek panel of future CJIs to allocate SC cases

On January 12, the four senior judges said they were forced to speak out because the CJI had not taken steps to redress their grievances, which they raised in October

india Updated: Feb 01, 2018 06:51 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Chief Justice of India,Justice Jasti Chelameswar
On January 12, in a press conference, Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph publicly criticised the CJI for his style of administration and over the allocation of cases.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

The stalemate between the Chief Justice of India and four senior Supreme Court judges over the way work is allocated in the top court continued on Wednesday when a scheduled meeting between them did not happen.

The four judges have met the CJI four times since January 12 when they first aired their grievances, but the latter is loath to accept their demand — that the rules for allocation of cases be decided by a committee of future CJIs. The four senior judges did not meet the CJI because Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second in seniority after the CJI, was on leave.

On January 12, in a press conference, Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph publicly criticised the CJI for his style of administration and over the allocation of cases. Their claim was that the CJI was allocating important cases to junior judges.

The idea of a committee of future CJIs was discussed at last week’s meeting of the CJI, the four judges and five other senior judges: Justice AK Sikri, and future CJIs Justice SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud. Justice Sikri has been trying to play peacemaker from the time the rift in the country’s top court became public knowledge.

The four aggrieved judges had discussed the idea with the future CJIs before mooting the idea to the CJI.

People familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the CJI is yet to respond to the idea and that he is not in favour of future CJIs being members of any such committee. Another contentious demand raised by the four judges is that the CJI should make the decision on the committee public, preferably through a press statement or conference.

The CJI has declined to do this, the people familiar with the matter added.

On January 12, the four senior judges said they were forced to speak out because the CJI had not taken steps to redress their grievances, which they raised in October. “A request was made to do a particular thing in a particular manner but it was done in such a way that it left further doubt on the integrity of the institution. Unless the institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in this country,” they said.

The tipping point seems to be the case of special CBI judge BH Loya. Two petitions demanding a fair probe into his mysterious death were listed before a bench headed by a judge who is 10th in terms of seniority. They believed a matter as serious as this should have been heard by someone more senior. The case is now being heard by a bench headed by the CJI himself.

All the four judges, the four senior-most in the apex court after the CJI, are part of the collegium that selects judges to the apex court and high courts.

The continuing rift could have a huge impact on the higher judiciary.

First Published: Feb 01, 2018 06:50 IST