Justices Chelameshwar, Gogoi, Lokur and Joseph have accused the CJI of ‘selectively assigning’ cases. CJI has assigned Justice Arun Mishra some key cases.
New Delhi: At an unprecedented press conference Friday, the four most senior Supreme Court judges – Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph – spoke out against what they said were contentious decisions by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra
One of the main issues they raised was Dipak Misra “selectively assigning” cases to benches not including the most senior judges.
There are a string of such cases that could be called into question, the latest being the case seeking a probe into the death of Maharashtra judge Brijgopal Loya. CJI Dipak Misra assigned the case to a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra Wednesday.
While the justices were holding their press conference, the controversial case was briefly heard before it was adjourned. The court did not issue a notice to the Maharashtra government, but asked the standing counsel to seek instructions before the next date of hearing.
Arun Mishra has, in fact, been assigned several key cases.
Medical college mess
After a five-judge constitution bench overruled Chelameswar’s order on the allegations that attempts were made to bribe SC judges, Dipak Misra sent the case to another smaller bench.
Arun Mishra was part of both – the constitution bench and the three-judge bench that dismissed the need for a judicial probe into the issue.
During the hearing, Arun Mishra said several times that the lawyers arguing the case – Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal – must be held in contempt for seeking a probe against Dipak Misra.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy also heard another case seeking a probe into what is popularly referred to as the Sahara-Birla diary case. Allegations were made that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name was in an entry for allegedly receiving payments from the Sahara and Aditya Birla groups.
The court had said that the cases “deserve dismissal”.
Last week, CJI Dipak Misra recused himself from a case related to attaching the properties of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P. Chidambaram, in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal case. Dipak Misra said the case will now be heard by a bench headed by Arun Mishra.
Who is Justice Arun Mishra?
Arun Mishra had served 15 years as a high court judge before being elevated to the Supreme Court in July 2014. His term ends in September 2020.
Arun Mishra’s elevation to the apex court had been unusually delayed. Had he been elevated at the right time, he would be in line for holding the office of the chief justice instead of just serving six years as a junior judge. His expertise is mostly in civil, industrial, service and criminal matters.
He had been a judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court and chief justice of the Rajasthan and Calcutta High Courts between 2010-2014. He holds the distinction of having decided over a lakh cases as a high court judge. He was also the youngest chairperson of the Bar Council of India.
His father H.G. Mishra was also a judge of the Madhya Pradesh high court.