By SM.14 Jan, 2018
NEW DELHI: A team from the Bar Council of India - the regulatory body of lawyers - will meet Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra at 7:30 this evening as it attempts to broker peace between him and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who took him on in public on Friday. The seven-member panel will also meet other judges of the top court through the day to seek their opinion on resolving the unprecedented crisis that has hit the judiciary.
On Friday, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, in a hurriedly-called press conference, declared that the administration of the Supreme Court "is not in order". The judges said they were making their disagreement with the Chief Justice public after private talks failed to address what they said were serious problems with the running of the Supreme Court.
The news conference, the first of its kind, sent shock waves as it blew the lid off a widening rift within the highest seat of judiciary in the country. "The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country," Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, said on the lawns of his home.
On Saturday, the Bar Council of India expressed its strong disapproval of judges going public with their complaints, saying it had "shaken up the system" and the matter should be resolved "peacefully and quickly".
"We just don"t want the dirty linen to be washed in public... Going to the cameras will weaken our system," Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of the Bar Council of India said.
Hours later, Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four "rebel" judges, underscored that there was "no need for outside intervention" to resolve a matter that "occurred within an institution".
He said there was no constitutional lapse on the part of the Chief Justice, but said that convention, practice and procedure has to be followed while carrying out his responsibility.
"There is no crisis," Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of Friday"s press conference, told news agency PTI in Kolkata, when asked about the way forward to resolve the crisis in the top court.
The government has steered clear of the controversy, insisting that it was a matter for the judiciary to resolve internally. On Saturday, the Congress was quick to call out Prime Minister Narendra Modi when his top aide, Principal Secrtary Nripendra Misra was spotted outside the Chief Justice"s home. But Mr Misra said the visit was a personal one and he had not managed to meet the Chief Justice.
In a letter released to the media at the press conference on Friday, the four judges had said that the criticisms related to an alleged lack of transparency in the selection of judges to try cases, calling it a cause for "serious concern".
The Supreme Court Bar Association, a representative body of lawyers, has, however, asked the Chief Justice to call a full-court meeting of all judges to discuss the issues raised by the four judges. It also backed the four judges on the point that public interest litigations (PILs) should only be heard by the five senior-most judges.