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Supreme Court crisis: Retired judges, lawyers try to broker truce between Chief Justice and colleagues

A Bar Council of India committee met at least five Supreme Court judges, including CJI Dipak Misra and the court’s senior-most judge, Justice J Chelameswar, in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2018 23:18 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Chief Justice of India,CJI
The Bar Council of India delegation that met Justice SA Bobde and Justice Kurian Joseph at their residences in Delhi on Sunday. (ANI Twitter)

Several former judges and the country’s premier statutory body for lawyers stepped up efforts on Sunday to end an unprecedented crisis in the higher judiciary in which the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and four senior judges of the Supreme Court are pitted against each other.

A seven-member committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) met at least seven Supreme Court judges, including CJI Dipak Misra and the court’s senior-most judge, Justice J Chelameswar, in an attempt to broker peace from within the legal fraternity and without any outside interference. (Highlights)

The BCI chairman, Manan Kumar Mishra, who was heading the delegation, expressed confidence that the rift would be resolved soon. “We met CJI in a congenial atmosphere. Everyone we talked to has assured us that matter will be sorted out,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Mishra met justices Chelameswar, Kurian Joseph and MB Lokur — three of the four who held the shock press conference on Friday — and expressed similar confidence: “We have been told that there is no crisis. It is an internal matter. I am sure a solution will be found in two to three days.”

A source privy to the meetings said one of the judges told Mishra that the dispute was not personal and the issues raised were solely in the interest of the institution.

A ‘full court’ meeting, involving all the Supreme Court judges, is likely on Monday. The BCI delegation, which also met Justices RK Agrawal, AK Goel and Arun Kumar Misra on Sunday, is planning to speak to all the 25 judges of the court over the next two days

The judicial fraternity has been shaken since four SC judges – Justices Chelameswar, Kurian Joseph, Ranjan Gogoi and MB Lokur – publicly questioned on Friday the CJI’s administration of the court and his allocation of judges for important cases.

On Sunday, four retired judges -- Justice PB Sawant of the Supreme Court, former chief justice of the Delhi high court AP Shah, former Madras high court judge K Chandru and former Bombay high court judge H Suresh -- said in an open letter to the CJI that the issue of allocation of cases be resolved “within the judiciary” to restore public trust and confidence.

“We agree that though the Chief Justice of India is the master of roster and can designate benches for allocation of work, this does not mean that it can be done in an arbitrary manner such that sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges by the chief justice,” the four former judges wrote.

In another missive, Vikas Singh, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association met the CJI and handed him a resolution by the organisation that represents lawyers of the apex court. The resolution, passed on Saturday, expressed “grave concern” over differences among the judges of the Supreme Court. The body seemed to support the argument of the four dissenting judges, saying that important matters should either be dealt with either by the CJI or by the senior-most judges of the court.

First Published: Jan 14, 2018 22:38 IST