The judge who has questioned the decisions of CJI Dipak Misra says there must be institutional mechanisms to deal with complaints against judges.
New Delhi: Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court, has said that impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is not the solution to resolve the crisis in the judiciary.
The comments by Chelameswar, who, along with three other most senior judges has questioned the decisions of the chief justice of India, comes in the aftermath of moves by some opposition parties to consider impeachment of Misra over allegations of wrongdoing.
“We must have institutional mechanisms to deal with complaints against judges. Impeachment has just become a buzzword this season,” he said.
Speaking on the “Role of judiciary in a Democracy”, Chelameswar said that his main concern about democracy is that there are “doubts about the integrity of the judiciary”.
The judge, who is due to retire at the end of June, was in conversation with journalist Karan Thapar at an event organised by the Harvard Club of India in the national capital Saturday. This is his second public engagement after the historic press conference on 12 January with three senior brother judges.
Chelameswar mostly spoke on the judicial crisis and explained what prompted the four senior judges to go public with their grievances against CJI Misra.
In an embarrassment to the CJI, he indicated that the government’s position on the memorandum of procedure (MoP) may have not been shared by Misra with other members of the collegium.
When asked about the government’s July 2017 suggestion to include a screening committee to recommend names for appointments, the apex court judge said he was “not aware of any such communication”.
When he was asked to explain how “sensitive cases were assigned to preferred benches”, he said that the disproportionate assets case against the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa was one of them.
“If you see, the judgment was reserved a year ago and was delivered only after she died. Is this not a case where the allocation failed?” he said.
The judge, however, refused to explicitly answer many questions, including why the collegium had not yet reiterated its decision on appointing Justice K.M. Joseph of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court.
When asked whether he refused to answer these questions as it would embarrass the CJI, the judge said it is “embarrassment for me as well, not just him”.
Thapar said he would interpret the judge’s “articulate silence” as confirming many doubts raised on the CJI’s conduct.
To a question why Chelameswar decided to speak out publicly, he said judges are ethically prohibited from speaking in public only about their judgments and not otherwise.
“I have been saying this on record and I will say it again when I have some 28 working days left. I will not take up any job after retirement under any government. What could possibly be my motive,” he said.
Chelameswar is due to retire on 22 June but effectively his last working day will be 18 May since the court will break for summer vacation.
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