Call for full court, over to Chief Justice

Man of the moment in city: Justice Ranjan Gogoi, one of the four senior Supreme Court judges who held a news conference on Friday to allege that all was not right in the highest court, was in Calcutta on Saturday for a meeting of the state legal services of the eastern region. Justice Gogoi, who is slated to become the Chief Justice of India later this year, delivered an address but did not speak about the news conference. “There is no crisis,” PTI quoted him as saying, in reply to a question on the way to 
resolve the crisis. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

New Delhi: A former Supreme Court judge has said the Chief Justice of India should call a "full-court meeting" of all the 25 apex court judges to discuss Friday's revolt by four senior judges, but informed sources said Justice Dipak Misra was not inclined to do so for the moment.

"The matter should go to a full-court meeting so that the functioning of the Supreme Court is not undermined any more. It's clear the four judges were asking for that," retired Justice Vikramjit Sen told The Telegraph on Saturday.

However, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) R.M. Lodha opposed the idea, saying a full-court meeting would only throw up a lot of "unnecessary opinions". He advocated that the four judges and the CJI sit together and resolve matters among themselves. 

Sources, however, said a "deeply hurt" CJI was unlikely to convene a meeting either of all the judges or of the collegium, made up of the four dissident judges and himself.

Instead, they said, he might informally discuss the matter one-to-one with some of the other judges to try and evolve his response.

Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph - the four senior-most judges after the CJI - had held an unprecedented news conference on Friday to insinuate that Justice Misra was assigning cases to handpicked judges to influence the outcomes, compromising justice delivery and judicial independence.

It's a convention for the CJI to summon a full-court meeting when a matter of public importance relating to the administration of the judiciary comes up.

"All the judges are free to air their views. The decisions are taken unanimously or through majority voting, which is final and binding," a source told this newspaper.

Fellow apex court judges appeared divided over the four senior judges' move. While some felt the quartet had no choice but to tell the nation about a matter of public importance, others said the differences should have been resolved internally without publicly embarrassing the highest judicial establishment.

"True, the CJI had been acting in an unbecoming manner by ignoring the (other) senior-most judges (in the allocation of key cases), but the manner in which they (the quartet) reacted was also uncalled for. There could have been a more mature response from either side," a sitting judge said.

Justice Vikramjit Sen, the retired judge, however, suggested the dissident judges had probably run out of options as Justice Misra appeared to have been unwilling to hear their grievances.

"After all, the Chief Justice is one among equals. He should have been receptive to their problems. This business of going to the press will ensure there is no recurrence of the CJI ignoring other judges," he said.


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