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Supreme Court not in order: Inside story of revolt by senior judges against CJI

India Today logo India Today 13-01-2018
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Four senior judges of the Supreme Court, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph dropped a bombshell today calling a press conference to express their dissent against the way Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was functioning.

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"Many things less than desirable have happened in the last three months. We have a responsibility to the nation to the institution that is why we are here. Several times we tried to persuade the chief justice towards getting things right but we failed. Democracy cannot survive like this," Justice Chelameswar said while addressing a gathering of reporters at his residence.

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He was apparently refering to the Medical Council of India case that saw a confrontation between the top two judges of the Supreme Court in November last year. Ever since the November showdown between Chief Justice Misra and Justice Chelameswar, speculations were rife that many other judges were not happy with the way the CJI office was functioning. 


WHAT HAPPENED IN MCI CASE?

The MCI case came before the Supreme Court in November through a PIL filed by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms seeking an SIT probe by a retired CJI.

Hearing the PIL on November 8, Justice Chelameswar posted the matter for November 10. But, he agreed to hear the matter next day - November 9 - again after counsels Prashant Bhushan and Dushyant Dave said that the matter required urgent hearing.

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Admitting the petition, Justice Chelameswar ordered setting up a constitution bench of five senior most judges for hearing the petition seeking SIT probe. But before Justice Chelameswar could pass the written order, another draft order was delivered to him.

CJI MISRA VERSUS JUSTICE CHELAMESWAR

The draft order had come from CJI Misra posting the matter before another bench. Meanwhile, the petitioner had contended that CJI Misra should not be on the bench hearing the PIL seeking SIT probe. Justice Chelameswar refused to pass an order on this stating that the constitution bench would decide the matter on November 13.

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On the other hand, CJI set up a seven-judge constitution bench on November 10 - a day after Justice Chelameswar ordered setting up a constitution bench to hear the PIL seeking SIT probe - to examine the ruling passed by the second senior most judge.

Two of the judges of the constitution bench recused themselves. The other five judges including CJI Misra annulled the order passed by Justice Chelameswar setting up the constitution bench. The presiding bench ruled that setting up a constitution bench falls under the administrative power of the CJI.

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A series of issues followed the MCI showdown. This included unhappiness among some of the judges over the change of roster by the CJI recently and referring certain cases including the petition seeking probe in Justice Loya's death to certain benches. Finally, the four senior judges of the Supreme Court today came out in open rebellion against the CJI office.

(With inputs from Anusha Soni)

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