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Supreme Court crisis: Leaders across parties express concern, call for probe

The Congress and Trinamool say SC judges speaking out against CJI Dipak Misra is “dangerous for democracy”, while CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and BJP’s Yashwant Sinha ask people to focus on issues raised.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2018 21:05 IST
Supreme Court judges J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, and Madan B Lokur in New Delhi on Friday.
Supreme Court judges J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, and Madan B Lokur in New Delhi on Friday.(Arvind Yadav/HT photo)

The unprecedented press conference by four Supreme Court judges on Friday evoked mixed reactions among political parties and leaders with the Congress saying the virtual revolt against the Chief Justice of India has put “democracy in danger”.

While the CPI-M sought a probe into the goings on in the top court, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha backed the four judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph. The four, along with CJI Dipak Misra, are part of the Supreme Court collegium that selects judges to the apex court and high courts.

“We are very concerned to hear 4 judges of the Supreme Court expressed concerns about the functioning of the Supreme Court,” the Congress said in a tweet with the hashtag #DemocracyInDanger.

Later, Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court judges as “extremely important”, and also sought investigation into the death of judge Loya by the “highest level” of the apex court.

Making a brief statement at a press conference, Gandhi said Justice Chelameswar’s remark that democracy will not survive in the country unless the Supreme Court was preserved, was “extremely important” and that it needed to be “looked into carefully”.

“They have also made a point about Judge Loya’s case. I think that is also something which needs to be investigated properly and looked at from the highest levels of the Supreme Court... All citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court, are looking at this issue and it’s important that its addressed,” Gandhi said.

The Congress also issued a statement where it said the issues raised by the four judges were “extremely disturbing” and have “far-reaching consequences for values we hold sacred”.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the allegations by the judges “merit a thorough, proper investigation and understanding of how independence and integrity of judiciary is being interfered or is being affected, which is impermissible in a secular democratic republic”.

He added that the “it is necessary for all three wings of our democracy — the executive, the legislature and the judiciary — to ensure that whatever has been raised is corrected”.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also reacted to the developments, saying the statement by the four senior judges “makes us really sad as citizens”.

“Judiciary and the media are the pillars of democracy. Extreme interference of the Central government with judiciary is dangerous for democracy,” she said.

Former finance minister and senior BJP leader Sinha backed the four judges in a series of tweets saying that instead of criticising them, people should concentrate on the issues raised by them.

“The press conference of the four senior judges of Supreme Court was absolutely unprecedented. Most important take away “when national interest is at stake ordinary rules of business do not apply”.

“What the judges are hinting at is loud and clear. Hope we get at the truth of judge Loya’s death,” he said referring to special CBI judge BH Loya whose death has come under the scanner after a news magazine raised questions about the circumstances in which he died.

Another BJP leader, Subramanian Swamy, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must intervene in the matter.

“We cannot criticise them (the four judges). They are men of great integrity and have sacrificed a lot of their legal career, where they could have made money as senior counsels,” he told news agency ANI.

“We must respect them. Now when these four have raised these issues, then the Prime Minister should intervene in the matter as the head of the governance,” he added.

Swamy said the senior judges have taken a great leap in the interest of the country and “the Prime Minister must ensure that the four judges and the Chief Justice of India, in fact whole Supreme Court should come to one opinion and proceed further”.