By SM.14 Jan, 2018
NEW DELHI: Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four judges who had criticised the distribution of cases at the Supreme Court on Friday, underscored that there was "no need for outside intervention" to resolve a matter that "occurred within an institution". The remarks - the first since the unprecedented press conference by the four judges that was seen as virtual rebellion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra - come after a lawyers" body, Bar Council of India, said it would start meeting all judges of the top court from Sunday morning to discuss the situation.
Four senior Supreme Court judges - Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph - had declared that "things are not in order" with the administration of the Supreme Court on Friday. "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 Chelameswar had said.
The Bar Council says about a dozen Supreme Court judges had consented to meet its 7-member team. Once they complete this round, the council would seek to meet the five senior-most judges -- the four senior-most judges and the Chief Justice of India. "We want the rift to be resolved peacefully", the council chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said.
There have been concerns about the impact of the unprecedented action by the judges on the Supreme Court and calls for the five senior-most judges to talk to each other and iron out the problem areas.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi appeared to play down the fallout of their decision to go public. "There is no crisis" Justice Gogoi said in Kolkata to a question on the way forward to resolve the crisis in the Supreme Court, according to news agency Press Trust of India. He declined to elaborate.
Justice Kurian Joseph made a similar point. "An issue was raised. Those concerned have listened to it. Such actions would not occur in future. So (I) believe that the issue has been settled," Justice Joseph told reporters on the sidelines of an event near Kochi in Kerala.
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 PM Modi when the prime minister"s top aide Nripendra Misra was spotted outside the CJI"s house. But Mr Misra said the visit was a personal one and he had not managed to meet Mr Misra.
The Congress had yesterday blamed the government for slowing down recruitment of judges by not clearing the new procedure for their appointment and asked the Supreme Court to get senior judges to oversee a high-level probe into judge BH Loya"s death in 2014. The judge died when he was hearing a politically-sensitive fake police encounter case.
A letter to the Chief Justice that was released at the press conference had spoken about instances of cases "having far reaching consequences for the nation had been assigned selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis".
The Chief Justice has not responded on the issue. Denying the claims of the four judges, sources in the judiciary said that there is no bias and cases are distributed fairly among judges.
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 should only be heard by the five senior-most judges.