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14 January 2018, 12:12 | Katrina Lee
Nripendra Misra outside the residence of the chief justice | ANI
Speaking on behalf of the four judges, Justice Chelameswar expressed his lament over the corrosion and compromise taking place within the institution of the judiciary and especially within the portals of the Supreme Court.
The four judges in the order of seniority - Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph - at a Press conference held at 4, Tughlaq Road, the official residence of Justice Chelameswar, unanimously expressed their angst about how the CJI refused to act on their letter expressing these concerns addressed to him nearly two months ago.
The Congress party stated it was pained over the judges of the Supreme Court expressing concern about its functioning.
Mishra said a Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) will be finalised at the earliest in a proper manner and that a letter will be written to the Government for the same.
The Supreme Court has 25 judges appointed by India's president, including the chief justice, and each retires at the age of 65, the court says on its website. While those like Indira Jaising hailed the historic nature of the conference, others have called the conference as something that will "set a bad precedent".
The chief justice did not immediately respond to telephone calls from Reuters to seek comment.
Besides many incidents, the judges mainly highlighted how an important case of CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya was assigned by the CJI to a bench of his preference, bypassing eight senior judges and benches.
The collegium has extensive powers in matters of appointing judges, transferring judges, administration of the courts and day-to-day management of the courts. Ranjan Gogoi's participation in the country's legal history was particularly notable - he was/is (as of now) slated to take up the role of the Chief Justice of India following Justice Dipak Misra's tenure.
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The Judge said he only hopes a solution could be arrived soon.
The four judges are justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur, besides Justice Chelameswar. It is appalling. How can you administer Supreme Court by press conference.
He said it was necessary for the three wings of democracy - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary - to ensure that whatever issues had been raised were corrected.
"It is a sad day for the judicial system", said Congress leader Ashwani Kumar, who is also a senior advocate.
"We collectively tried to persuade CJI that certain things aren't in order so take remedial measures but unfortunately our efforts failed", said Justice Chelameswar. It needs to be looked into carefully.
Unless this institution is preserved, "democracy will not survive" in this country, Chelameswar said in the unscheduled press conference, in the first of its kind event in independent India.
"Whatever differences the judges have regarding the roster or allocation of cases, should be resolved through an in-house mechanism, without airing views in public", Mishra said. Attorney General K K Venugopal said that the judges should have avoided the media.
Justifying the decision to go public with their dissent with the CJI, Justice Gogoi said, "By holding this Press conference we are discharging our debt to the nation". He said the government should not meddle in the matter.
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