Govt 'doing nothing', SC judge writes to CJI Misra

Govt 'doing nothing', SC judge writes to CJI Misra

In an unprecedented press conference on January 12, the four senior-most judges, had accused the Chief Justice of India (CJI) of arbitrarily allocating cases. "Do not bring it here", the bench told senior advocate Dushyant Dave.

"This is not some instant coffee", he said and added: "We are dealing with an institution and it will be a very sad day if the Opposition has to take that step.it will be with very heavy heart".

Justice Kurian recalled how a Full Court made a decision to set up the Bench of seven seniormost judges to suo motu initiate contempt against controversial former Calcutta High Court judge C.S. Karnan.

Mr Dave cited the 1998 judges case in which the Supreme Court itself had interpreted the CJI to mean collegium of judges.

The Executive (government) sitting over collegium recommendation and not saying anything, Justice Joseph said, sends a "wrong message which is loud and clear to all the judges down the line not to cause any displeasure to the Executive, lest they should suffer". But Dave said that the CJI does not decide on allocation of all cases and is consulted only on select cases by the Registry.

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Justice Joseph said if there is no normal delivery on completion of the gestation period, a caesarean operation is undertaken.

The petition on Friday was heard by a bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. "Some cases may appear sensitive to you, others may feel something else is sensitive". Justice Sikri pointed out that it was for the objective of appointment and transfer and has nothing to do with the CJI's administrative power in allocation of cases.

As Dave responded in the affirmative, Justice Sikri said: "Prima facie, we don't see that for this, the CJI be treated as Collegium".

On Justice Kurian Joseph's reported missive to fellow judges in the apex court on the problems in judiciary, Sibal said the "distinguished judge" had acted to ensure that the Supreme Court acts "collectively to protect its own independence". The case was referred to a junior judge. In Justice Karnans case if it was a threat to the dignity of the court, the present one is a threat to the very life and existence of the institution.I am of the view that following the precedent in Justice Karnans case, we should take up the matter on the judicial side in a Bench of first seven or more as you please. Sibal sought to know what the recourse was if no solution can be found internally.

Reiterating that the chief justice was the "master of the roster" and sole authority to decide on allotment of cases, the court went on to say, "As a repository of constitutional trust, the chief justice is an institution in himself". He answered in the affirmative when the court asked both him and the AG to assist it.

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