New Delhi : Four senior-most Supreme Court judges, who rebelled against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday, did not say it in so many words by not going into specifics but in guarded words they accused him of allocating cases to handpicked junior judges to try and influence the outcome.
No wonder that the government refused to react saying it was an internal matter of the judiciary that will be resolve by itself and even this much reaction came out from a junior minister and not from Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, known for always speaking out, though he was in his office whole of the day on Friday. The government’s worry is that the judges have threatened to open up “other judicial orders” that may put it in an awkward situation. BJP spokesman Sambit Patra held a press conference
Friday night only to accuse Congress President Rahul Gandhi “trying to gain political mileage” of the four judges” outburst, but refraining from commenting on the development rocking the Apex Court as he skipped toying the same government line that “this is an internal matter of the Supreme Court.”
In hushed voices, those in BJP headquarters accuse the four rebel judges of “indiscipline” but what is worrying them most is the judges’ bid to reopen a case against party chief Amit Shah by bringing into focus the death of Mumbai’s CBI judge BH Loya who was hearing the Sorahbuddin Sheikh fake encounter case of 2005 transferred from Gujarat to Mumbai. Loya died in December 2015 and in the same month another judge replacing him discharged Shah as an accused for want of evidence.
Opposition leaders are talking among themselves to bring an impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha against the CJI, but the Congress is reluctant as its legal luminaries, many of whom are the Rajya Sabha members, have told Rahul Gandhi that the matter may fizzle out even before pushing for the impeachment.
The judges are aggrieved that key cases are being allocated not to them but to judges junior to them, bringing to fore the general perception that certain positions taken by the CJI had helped the government. For instance, on Friday, a PIL seeking an independent probe into the mysterious death of judge Loya was assigned to the Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, who is the 10th in seniority among the 25 judges. The four judges met the CJI Friday morning to change the Bench. He refused and that prompted them to go to the Press.
The letter that four judges wrote to the CJI is troubling the government as it talks of “cases having far- reaching consequences for the nation and the institution have been assigned by the chief justices of this court selectively to the benches ” of their preference ” without any rationale.” Several key cases – like the Ayodhya title dispute, the challenge to Aadhaar’s constitutionality and the courts’ right to look into parliamentary panel reports to pass judicial orders – are being heard by the CJI along with judges who are relatively junior.
The four judges believe these cases have far-reaching implications for the country and should be heard by senior-most judges. But none of the five senior-most judges except the CJI is part of the benches hearing these cases. They are in effect saying that the CJI does not consult them on either the composition or the strength of the benches that are to hear cases of national importance like Ayodhya and Aadhaar.