Mumbai : The ‘unprecedented’ press meet called by the four senior-most sitting judges of the Supreme Court of India has stunned the judicial fraternity and the move seems to have not gone down well with several retired judges. The four judges led by Justice Jasti Chelameswar voiced their ‘concerns’ over the attitude of the present Chief Justice of India – Dipak Misra, especially in assigning cases and maintaining ‘equanimity’ in the country’s top court.
Most of the former judges of the Bombay High Court have slammed the ‘move’ of the four judges for making an ‘internal’ difference, public. They have termed the day as a ‘black day’ for the judiciary and that these ‘rebellion’ judges could have avoided going before the press and the public.
While speaking with the Free Press Journal, Justice RMS Khandeparkar, of the Goa bench of Bombay HC said, “This is an unfortunate incident for the institution. I can say that this incident is obviously going to hamper the dignity of the judiciary and the institution as a whole. This could have been avoided and the four judges could have had met in a chamber and spoke on the issue.”
“Instead of resolving the issue amicably, the judges chose to come out in public and press. This move will have an adverse impact on the credibility of the judiciary. I can say that this would result in indisciplined conduct in the bar as well as the bench. Also, even the public would have no faith in the credibility of the judiciary,” Justice Khandeparkar said.
Pointing out at a legal remedy for the rebellion judges, Justice Khandeparkar said, “They could have gone to the President of India and sought his intervention. But now since the mess has already taken place, I think now some senior judges or counsels must step in and intervene in the issue. And most importantly, the government should stay away from this entire episode and should not make any attempt to intervene.”
Another retired judge – Justice Anil Nirgude expressed ‘sorrow’ over the incident and hopes that the incident does not take a ‘political turn.’ He said, “I am saddened by this entire incident. I sympathise with the judges who spoke publicly but I do not approve their move. I am only concerned that the incident must not take a political turn.”
“Judges are humans, even they can fight and have a difference of opinions. But at the same time, there are times when judges are helpless and this incident, I believe was a result of the same. I think the judges must give away their differences and resolve the issue amicably,” Justice Nirgude added.
While a retired senior judge told FPJ, this move will backfire on the judiciary. “The British ruled over us with the divide and rule policy, this current government is indulging in the same tactic. It is wise to remain quiet. There are many mechanisms at our disposal and means to ensure these issues are exposed in an effective manner. The repercussions of this are bound to backfire on the judiciary, with lack of faith,” said the judge.
All steps must be taken to ensure that the dignity of the judiciary is held high: Justice Manjula Chellur
Reacting to the apex court judges’ media briefing and their allegations, retired Bombay High Court chief justice Manjula Chellur said something must have triggered the four judges to go public with their claims. “These situations are difficult. But what needs to be kept in mind is that this is not about just individuals. This is about the institution in totality,” Chellur told PTI.
“All steps must be taken to ensure that the dignity of the judiciary is held high. Courts are the last place the public goes to resolve their disputes and problems,” she said. “I am sure Attorney General K K Venugopal and the Union law minister and others concerned will take into consideration all the factors and take a suitable decision,” Chellur, who retired last month, said.
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