A scheduled meeting between four senior judges of the Supreme Court, who went public with their criticism against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and the CJI did not materialise on Wednesday, with one of them, Justice J Chelameswar, on leave. Sources said the crisis after the January 12 press conference by Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph remained unresolved. With Justice Chelameswar set to be away on Thursday, too, this makes the prospect of the meeting unlikely till next week.
Sources said that at the previous meeting, held last week, the moot point under discussion was a proposal from the Chief Justice that all five judges must come out together publicly and state that all issues were now being resolved. Sources say the four judges declined to do so until they saw visible and tangible progress on “issues” raised by them, and “as promised by the Chief Justice.”
The four judges who raised concerns over the allocation of cases are learnt to have proposed the setting up of a committee comprising judges who would be Chief Justices in the future to suggest an institutional mechanism for marking of cases as per the Roster that would be notified by the SC Registry. As of now, the SC Roster is not known to the public. Making it public has been one of the demands of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) too.
They also want the CJI to communicate the setting up of the committee to the public. Once the suggestions are finalised, the same should be uploaded to the court’s official webpage, so that procedure would be known to all and, in turn, boost transparency.
The CJI has not responded to the suggestions. Though he is open to the committee, the question of inclusion of future Chief Justices remains a thorny issue. Sources said a clearer picture would emerge in a week’s time.
All available judges, other than Justice Chelameswar, meanwhile attended the customary lunch which the SC judges take turns to host every Wednesday. The host judge serves his or her home cuisine at the lunch. This Wednesday, it was the Justice A K Goel’s turn to play host.
The Chief Justice has been asserting his rights as ‘master of the roster’, but in a series of instances, the four Judges had pointed out in their letter written to him two and a half months ago, which they made public, the rostering of cases was such as to not inspire confidence in the system being fair, transparent or just.
The matter of hearing a petition on the controversial Medical Council of India (MCI) cases had brought issues to the fore when Justice Chelameswar had constituted a bench. It was overruled by the Chief Justice in an unprecedented move by him within hours and kept with a bench of which he was himself a member.
The five judges are incidentally, also members of the collegium which decides on fresh appointments, transfers and postings. No meeting of the collegium has so far been held after the press conference.