Judges revolt: A historic press conference and political aftermath

New Delhi, Jan 13:  In the chequered 67-year-long history of the apex court, January 12 will stand out- the day when the nation watched with shock as TV channels aired live, a press conference by four senior-most judges of Supreme Court. As the press meet unfolded, the very act became a revolt in itself against Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.

The main issue that the judges pointed out in their act was that the CJI was allocating cases selectively to the benches bypassing senior judges, which is not the precedence in the apex court.

The four senior judges of Supreme Court, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Madan B Lokur gathered  at the 4, Tughlaq Road Bungalow in Lutyen’s Delhi, in the official residence of Justice Chelameswar for about 7-8 minutes, however, refused to answer some pointed questions from the journos. Instead, the judges said that they were not doing ‘politics’.

Politics over Judges Revolt 

But against their wishes, politics soon took over the otherwise revolt, with the visit of CPI leader D Raja to Justice Chelameswar’s residence after the press conference. He also admitted about the visit and said he wanted to know “what is happening”. However, hours later, the CPI disassociated itself from the visit, saying Raja went there in his personal capacity. “I know him, so I called him and asked him what is happening…. Why you are so much distressed and disturbed,” Raja told the media.

Congress jumped to take the political mileage out of the issue. Congress president Rahul Gandhi holding a press meet, said “It was unprecedented. Points raised by the Honourable judges need to be looked into carefully, even Justice Loya’s death needs to be investigated properly,.

Politician and Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan reacted through his twitter account had this to say. “Truly unprecedented! Kudos to 4 senior-most judges of SC who addressed a Press Conf today (Friday) to apprise the people about the extraordinary abuse of ‘master of roster’ powers by CJI in selectively assigning politically sensitive cases to hand-picked junior judges for the desired outcome.”

Hours after the press meet, a senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who is at loggerheads with the BJP national leadership reacted and said that instead of criticising the judges, people should concentrate on the issues raised by them.

“Seen some of the comments, stand firmly with the four judges. Instead of criticising them, let us concentrate on the issues raised by them. If the highest court is compromised then democracy is in peril,” Sinha added.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the  Congress was trying to politicise the entire issue which is actually the  “internal affairs” of the Supreme Court.

“We had a press conference which was addressed by four respected judges of Supreme Court. All those issues in the press conference related to the interior issues of the judiciary. It is administrative issues of the highest court in the country,” said Patra, dismissing the press meet as an internal affair of the judiciary.

It is clear from the silence that the Law Minister and Prime Minister are maintaining that the Government do not want to intervene in the issue, at least in the public eye.