March 17, 2018

India's Supreme Court judges warn democracy is in danger

13 January 2018, 05:30 | Austin Hogan

Supreme Court judges during a press conference in New Delhi on Friday

Supreme Court judges during a press conference in New Delhi

Mentioning the pending Judge Loya mystery death case, Rahul said that if the senior judges mentioned it then it must be thoroughly investigated and brought out in the open in an independent probe.

"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 desired outcome", Bhushan tweeted.

In a scathing criticism and unvarnished self-reflection of the Supreme Court, Chelameswar, who was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph at the press conference, said they had met the chief justice this morning and "raised issues affecting the institution".

While concluding the press conference, Justice Chelameswar said, " There are many wise men saying many wise things in this country. They have added for good measure that cases with far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution are being assigned to junior judges and Benches "of their preferences", a suggestion that is being read by some as an ominous reference to an unknown external hand.

The first incident of break from the established tradition in appointing the CJI came in 1973 when justice AN Ray was made the CJI superseding three judges. But since all other avenues were exhausted, they chose to do so and we need to give some weight to that statement.

There are now 25 judges on India's Supreme Court, with six vacancies.

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"The Government of India has not responded to the communication and in view of this silence, it must be taken that the MoP as finalised by the Collegium has been accepted by the Government of India on the basis of the order of this court...."

"This merits a thorough, proper investigation and understanding of how independence and integrity of judiciary is being interfered or is being affected, which is impermissible in a secular democratic republic", Yechury said.

Raja later told media persons that he knew Justice Chelameswar for quite a long time and thought he should find out what happened, since the judges have gone public with their complaints.

The top court asked the state government to file its reply by January 15 and said "this matter requires bi-parte hearing rather than ex-parte". "20 years from now, nation should not say we sold our souls".

The government made a decision to maintain a stoic silence to four senior judges of the Supreme Court mounting a virtual revolt against the Chief Justice of India and cautioning that what was happening in the judiciary could "destroy Indian democracy".

Justice Gogoi said "nobody is breaking the rank and it is discharge of debt to nation which we have done". Speaking on similar lines, Ravindra Babu said that an All India Judicial Services on par with the IAS should be constituted, while several MPs suggested live telecast of proceeding in the higher courts and the Supreme Court. We have spotted things in the last few months. And Prashant Bhushan the lawyer and politician said CJI Dipak is misusing his power and this must have to stop because it is risky for our democracy.

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