Are we not reminded of the incident that happened in 1977, when HN Bahuguna and Babu Jagjiwan Ram boycotted Mrs Indira Gandhi’s meeting? This very incident changed the picture of the Indian politics. The four senior judges of the Supreme Court of India by speaking openly and blatantly against the Chief Justice of the SCI have changed the savour of the Indian judiciary.
It was indeed unprecedented and unfortunate too when four senior most judges of the Supreme Court of India got together and held a press conference against ‘some’ steps being taken by the Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice Dipak Mishra. In the history of free India such event as this has never happened. These senior judges – Mr Justice J. Chelameswar, Mr Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Mr Justice Madan B. Lokur and Mr Justice Kurian Joseph – seemed concerned and sincere too, both vulnerable and human as well. No exaggeration. Some say it is a self-destructive step taken by the senior judges. Other claim it is an unfortunate dissention in the top corner of the judiciary. Is it so?
The judges said they met the CJI that very day (Jan 12, 2018) in the morning. They had sent a seven page letter to him before that. The copies of this letter were also distributed among media persons. They say the CJI didn’t pay heed to this letter.
No matter what happens now; no matter if these judges as well as their allegations are true; no matter who is right or wrong here, what happened on Friday will not fade away soon. History has been created. I wish it is not repeated! The senior judges didn’t reveal much but raised questions to the CJI’s handling of the judicial work. The cases with far reaching consequences were being assigned selectively to the benches ‘of their preferences’ and the convention was not followed. This very thing is construed as a threatening reference to an ‘external ’ hand.
Mr Justice Chelamsewar’s saying that democracy in India may be in danger seems to be an exaggerated statement. But his allegation that the CJI was departing from the convention and thus it might bring ‘unpleasant and undesirable consequences’ clearly shows that the integrity of the judiciary is under the spell of doubts now.
The CJI must step forward now. Mr Justice Dipak Mishra must not just brush aside the points raised by the senior judges. As demanded by the Bar, he must call a meeting of the full court and give a patient ear to their voice. If this issue is simply brushed under the carpet, it will simmer and explode with much serious consequences.
Also, it must be taken care that such thing doesn’t happen again and the circumstances leading to such event as has happened must be addressed and handled properly. Internal fracture in judiciary is dangerous but dissention can be cured. The Supreme Court of India has always guided the nation in a glorious way and the CJI will, hopefully provide full confidence to his colleagues across the land. The nation must feel safe and secure. It must be reassured of this. The onus is on the CJI as well as his colleagues.
Jan 16, 2018.