SC dismisses 10-year-old contempt cases against PCO judges

Arun Mishra had served 15 years as a high court judge before being elevated to the Supreme Court in July 2014.

Four senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday mounted a virtual revolt against the chief justice, listing a litany of problems that they said are afflicting the country's highest court and warned they could destroy Indian democracy. "Our judiciary is reputed all over the world, independent and they will sort the matter themselves", said minister of state for law P P Chaudhury. His sentencing shows the need "for greater scrutiny and screening of judiciary", India's law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in June.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the claims made by four Supreme Court judges about maladministration within the apex court should be looked into.

The four judges - justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B Lokur besides justice Chelameswar - released a letter they wrote to justice Misra a couple of months ago, conceding that he was the master of roster but that was "not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the chief justice over his colleagues".

"The Chief Justice of India, for the first time, has violated the most basic norm of any decision-making authority that no one shall be a judge in his or her own case", Bhushan wrote on Twitter on November 10, 2017.

The remarks assume significance as the Supreme Court today took up for consideration petitions requesting for an independent probe into the death of judge Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case of 2004, in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah are named as parties.

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The main allegation of the four senior judges is that the Chief Justice of India has not been transparent when it comes to discharging his duties. "There is no pleasure in this, we were compelled to do this, the administration of the Supreme Court is not in order", said the senior Judge. In 1977, Justice HR Khanna was the lone dissenting judge on a Supreme Court bench that ruled in favour of the government in a key case during the Emergency (1975-77). "When I came to know of the extraordinary step taken by him & other judges, I thought must meet him".

Justice Gogoi said "nobody is breaking the rank and it is a discharge of debt to the nation which we have done".

The chief justice did not immediately respond to telephone calls from Reuters seeking comment.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the Bombay Lawyers Association, told the bench that the Bombay High Court was seized of the matter and the bench should not hear the plea.

The main issue appeared to be the assignment of cases by the CJI in the Supreme Court. "We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation".

The CJI, for his part, is said to have indicated that he respected every judge and distribution of cases to each of them was done in a "fair manner", keeping the overall load on the judiciary.

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