India: Four senior Supreme Court judges revolt against Chief Justice Dipak Misra

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 13: In an unprecedented move that stunned India, the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court broke ranks on Fridayand publicly questioned the leadership of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The four judges—-J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph—- alleged that the chief justice is not following established precedents in allocation of cases among the judges. Consequently, they argued, this was "adversely" affecting the justice delivery system.

After submitting a seven-page letter of protest to the chief justice on Friday morning, the judges went public with their grievances and held a press conference at the residence of Justice Chelameswar.

"This is an extraordinary event in the history of the institution. The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and despite repeated attempts to convince the Chief Justice to take immediate remedial measures, nothing has been done," Chelameswar told the media.

Misra did not respond to the issues raised in the press conference or the letter and continued to hear the cases on his roster through the day. While Gogoi is next in line to take over from Misra, Chelameswar, Joseph and Lokur will retire this year.

Interestingly, while the letter made no reference to it, the four justices in their briefing alluded to the controversial 2014 death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was presiding over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Responding to a question on whether their protests had anything to do with allocation of Loya’s case, Gogoi said "yes".

Besides being an unprecedented step, the revolt by the four judges has the potential to snowball into a larger crisis, especially since national political parties are poised to take sides on the issue.

Addressing a press conference on Friday evening, Congress President Rahul Gandhi backed the four judges.

"Points raised by the four judges are extremely important. They said there is a threat to democracy and that needs to be looked into carefully.

SC judges spoke about Justice Loya and that too needs to be looked at from the highest levels of judiciary."

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