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Jan 12, 2018 04:36 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Justice Chelameswar, other judges attack CJI over SC administration: Here are their key grievances

In the first-of-its-kind event, four senior judges of the Supreme Court of India today held a press conference, saying the administration of the apex court 'was not in order' and questioned certain decisions taken by Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra.

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supreme court of india (Reuters)
supreme court of india (Reuters)

In the first-of-its-kind event, four senior judges of the Supreme Court of India today held a press conference, saying the administration of the apex court 'was not in order' and questioned certain decisions taken by Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra.

In a strongly-worded press statement, the judges (Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph) underlined the importance of holding the judiciary to the highest standard and said 'democracy would not survive' in the country if steps were not taken.

The judges added that they had complained to the CJI, including in a recent letter, about "less than desirable" things that had happened in recent months and that they were compelled to "take it to the nation".

Here are the charges laid by the judges at the press conference and the letter that was accessed by the media:

One of the key contentions by the judges revolved around assignment of cases to various judges on the bench. "There have been instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justice of this court selectively to the benches "of their preference" without any rational basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs."

While the judges did not make a mention of this in the letter, at the press conference, Justice Ranjan Gogoi confirmed that this was in reference to assignment of the case involving the controversial death of CBI Judge BM Loya, who was hearing the matter of the Sohrabuddin case.

- Another point made by the judges was the delay in the formation of the revised Memorandum of Procedure. The Memorandum of Procedure is a set of rules that guide the selection of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Supreme Court proposed it to be revised after it struck down the controversial NJAC Act, which gave the government a say in the selection.

But the revised MoP has yet to be issued, and when a lawyer, RP Luthra, challenged appointments made to the judiciary in its absence, a two-judge bench issued an order, which was subsequently recalled by another three-judge bench, comprising the CJI.

"When the Memorandum of Procedure was the subject matter of a decision of a Constitution Bench of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Anr. Vs. Union of India [(2016) 5 SCC 1] it is difficult to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter," the judges wrote in their letter.

- In the letter, the judges also talked about case against High Court Judge Justice Kannan, who was reprimanded for his outbursts against the Supreme Court. "In that decision, two of us observed that there is a need to revisit the process of appointment of judges and to set up a mechanism for corrective measures other than impeachment. No observation was made by any of the seven learned judges with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure."

- They further added that "any issue with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure should be discussed in the Chief Justices' Conference and by the full court. Such a matter of grave importance, if at all required to be taken on the judicial side, should be dealt with by none other than a Constitution Bench."
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