No end to Supreme Court crisis as three of four judges who protested go out of town

A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on Friday.
A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on Friday.| PTI Photo by Atul Yadav

Efforts to forge a consensus yield no results. Sources say Attorney General has advised CJI Dipak Misra to show restraint.

New Delhi: A day after four Supreme Court judges publicly raised questions on the functioning of the office of the Chief Justice of India, efforts to forge a consensus between them have not yielded any results.

Sources told ThePrint that a meeting between CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur – the four senior-most judges after the CJI – is on the cards. But the meeting has not yet taken place since Gogoi, Joseph and Lokur have flown out of the capital for other engagements, and are unlikely to return until late Sunday evening.

Although Chelameswar insists that the four judges are united in their stand, it is unlikely he will speak on behalf of the others.

The CJI, who was caught off guard by the four judges’ unprecedented press conference Friday, had immediately summoned the government’s top law officer, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal. It is learnt that Venugopal advised Misra to show restraint and not respond immediately.

Reconciliation attempts by lawyers’ associations

Meanwhile, lawyers’ associations and the Bar Council of India (BCI) held meetings throughout the day to agree on reconciliatory methods. BCI chairman Manan Mishra said Saturday that a seven-member team would be formed by Sunday to meet the judges.

Both the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) criticised the judges’ move to hold the press conference.

While SCAORA urged “all stakeholders to resolve issues internally within the constitutional framework”, SCBA passed a two-pronged resolution.

The first is to resolve the current impasse between the top judges through a full court reference – a joint sitting of all apex court judges. Full court references are currently held only for remembrance meetings when an eminent member of the legal fraternity passes away.

The second is to have all public interest litigation cases listed before the CJI or the next top four judges. The SCBA said this would remedy the issue raised by the senior judges that cases of importance were not being assigned to them.

Judge Loya’s death

Significantly, the controversial case seeking a probe into the death of Maharashtra trial court judge B.H. Loya is unlikely to be taken up before the apex court Monday.

The registry has cancelled hearing of the case, along with others listed for the day, since one of the two judges supposed to hear the case, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, will not be available on that day.

Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Joseph and Lokur had expressed anguish over the CJI’s decision to assign this case to a particular bench and not to the any of the top judges.

As per the CJI’s instructions, the case was listed before a bench of justices Arun Mishra and Shanatangowdar.

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