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Supreme Court judges vs CJI: Attorney General hopes crisis will be settled

A day after four Supreme Court judges publicly criticised CJI Dipak Misra, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray says attempts are being made to make judiciary “deaf and dumb”. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha says need to take note of issues raised.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2018 17:39 IST
New Delhi, Mumbai
Attorney General,Supreme court crisis,Venugopal
(L-R ) Supreme Court judges Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Ranjan Gogoi address the media in New Delhi on Friday.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Attorney General KK Venugopal hoped on Saturday that the crisis in the top judiciary following a public criticism of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra by four Supreme Court judges will be “settled”.

“Let’s hope everything works out very well,” he told reporters a day after the four judges questioned “selective” case allocation and certain judicial orders in an unprecedented press conference.

Amid concerns over a rift in India’s top court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s principal secretary, Nripendra Misra, was seen on Saturday morning driving to the CJI’s residence. He was seen sitting inside his official car that returned from the gate.

The Congress was quick to ask PM Modi why he sent Misra to the CJI’s residence. The BJP, though, has refrained from speaking on the issue, calling it an “internal matter of the apex court” and hit out at the Congress for using it to gain “political mileage”.

‘Stood up for justice

One of the four judges who virtually revolted against Misra expressed confidence on Saturday that the issues raised by them will be resolved. Justice Kurian Joseph said he and Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and J Chelameswar acted solely in the interest of judiciary and justice.

He rejected suggestions that they had violated discipline and expressed the hope that their actions will bring in more transparency in the administration of the Supreme Court.

“Stood up for justice and judiciary... That is what we said there (in New Delhi) yesterday. Nothing beyond that,” Justice Joseph said in Malayalam when local television news channels approached him at his ancestral home in Kalady.

However, the Bar Council of India said the move to hold a press conference on the ‘minor issue’ of roster was saddening.

In Friday’s surprise move, the four judges accused the Chief Justice of not strictly adhering to the rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches, which they said could create “doubts” about the integrity of the top court.

Speaking to the media at the residence of Justice Chelameswar, the judges said the Supreme Court administration was “not in order”, and released an undated letter they wrote to Justice Misra in which they conceded that the CJI was the “master of the roster” but this was “not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual, of the Chief Justice over his colleagues”.

Uddhav, Sinha pitch in

Praising the four judges, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said attempts were being made to make the judiciary “deaf and dumb”. He said the government should not meddle in the matter.

“The decision of those judges should be lauded. There is a high possibility that there will be an inquiry called against them now. However, this inquiry should be unbiased,” Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai.

“...The question that has arisen now is if people are fulfilling their responsibilities towards the nation? Only winning elections is not administration,” Thackeray, whose party is an ally of the ruling BJP, said.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has been critical of the NDA government’s economic policies, said it was “our bounden duty to take note of what the judges have said and raise our voice for corrective action”.

“If four senior judges have gone public then how is it a Supreme Court matter? It is a serious matter. If they say anything to the people of the country, it is our bounded duty to take note of that,” Sinha said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2018 15:06 IST