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The four senior-most Supreme Court judges who have taken on the Chief Justice

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Justices Chelameswar, Lokur, Gogoi, and Joseph held an unprecedented press conference together today to voice their disappointment with how the top court is being run.

In a historic move, four judges of the Supreme Court of India held a press conference in New Delhi Thursday to air their grievances about Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Ranjan Gogoi, and Kurian Joseph addressed a press conference at Chelameswar’s Tughlaq Road residence.

The four judges argued that they had to resort to this step as the chief justice did not listen to their persuasions about changing the ways of the top court.

The four also spoke about a letter (read full text) which they had written to the CJI some months ago. They had expressed their unhappiness with the assigning of cases to judges, as well as the death of judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin case in a special court.

Jasti Chelameswar

Justice Chelameswar is the second most senior judge in the Supreme Court. Before being elevated as a Supreme Court judge in 2011, he had served as the chief justice of the Kerala and Gauhati High Courts, as well as an additional judge at the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

Chelameswar became chief justice of the Gauhati High Court in May 2007, but was not elevated to the SC until October 2011, robbing him of the chance to become Chief Justice of India as it placed him behind CJI Dipak Misra in seniority in the top court.

Many ground-breaking judgments are attributed to him, including the one on preserving the right to privacy in the Aadhaar case.

He was also the judge who expressed the famous dissent in the ruling on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) in 2015. A year after his famous dissent, Chelameswar when invited to the meetings, refused to participate in deliberations.

The Supreme Court judge hails from Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh and is a graduate in physics and law.  A voracious reader, Chelameswar is a rare judge who opens his personal library to his law clerks and young lawyers. He is often seen recommending books to them. (Read our full profile of him here)

Madan B. Lokur

Justice Madan B. Lokur practised as an advocate in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He was enrolled as advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court in 1981.

Lokur was elevated as an additional judge of the Delhi High Court in 1999 before becoming a permanent judge in that high court. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2012.

Lokur, along with Justice U.U. Lalit, used to head a social justice bench that was constituted by the Supreme Court in 2014. It was later shelved.

This bench heard cases on disparate issues such as the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, exploitation of children in orphanages in Tamil Nadu, monitoring of rehabilitation of those impacted by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam, monitoring of the Nirbhaya fund, and the fund for rehabilitation of Devdasis in Karnataka.

While Lokur is known to be a soft-spoken judge, he doesn’t hesitate when it comes to taking government officials to task for their ineptitude.

Ranjan Gogoi

Justice Ranjan Gogoi is next in line to become the Chief Justice of India in October 2018, succeeding Dipak Misra. Justice Gogoi is set to be the first judge from the Northeast to hold this post.

A former judge of the Gauhati High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Gogoi was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2012. His father Keshab Chandra Gogoi was a former chief minister of Assam.

Gogoi is known to be a stoic and straightforward judge who doesn’t distinguish between senior and junior lawyers in court.

The best instance of this is in Gogoi’s response to former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s outburst in his courtroom in 2016.

Gogoi was unmoved by Katju’s protests at being slapped with a contempt notice and asked security personnel to escort the retired judge out of the packed courtroom.

Kurian Joseph  

Justice Kurian Joseph is the only sitting Christian judge of the Supreme Court. He is known for addressing issues of the minority community.

Joseph served as a judge of the Kerala High Court, before being elevated to Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court in February 2010. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2013.

Joseph has dealt exclusively with family law. He is also on the bench hearing the coal scam.

However, one his most notable judgments came in the triple talaq judgment on 22 August 2017, in which he observed: “Triple talaq is against the tenets of the Holy Quran and hence violates Shariat… It is extremely difficult to agree with the CJI that triple talaq is integral to the practice of Islam. What is bad in Quran cannot be part of Shariat.”

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