Supreme Court judges' unprecedented media address sends tremors across the country

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One of the four senior-most judges, who held an unprecedented press conference, had said that the matter involving Judge Loya's death was one of the issues underpinning their differences with Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Led by judge Jasti Chelameswar, they delivered an unprecedented message to the journalists gathered in Delhi: that the conduct of India's highest court was "not in order" and that "unless this institution is preserved, democracy can't be protected in this country".

"There have been instances where case having far reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of the Court selectively to the benches "of their preference" without any rationale basis for such assignment".

"Even this morning, the four of us went and met the Chief Justice of India and tried to persuade him to accept that certain things are not in order and that he should take remedial measures. This must be guarded against at all costs", says the letter by the judges.

Having said that, the way the apex court has functioned in the recent past has been far from ideal; today's events has put it beyond doubt that all is not well at the very top of the judiciary.

His judgement was seen by many as a way to vent his personal sentiments against the Collegium system that has been an impediment to his promotion to become the Chief Justice. "This means that there is a serious dispute, either with Chief Justice of India (CJI) or some internal dispute", PB Sawant, former Supreme Court judge said. If past events are any guide, the government will unlikely get drawn into this, citing the judiciary's independence.

Lone contended that a fair probe was needed into the "mysterious death" of Loya.

As a retired judge of the Supreme Court, I feel devastated.

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Three of them are scheduled to retire this year, while Gogoi is in line to be the next chief justice, based on seniority.

The CJI is yet to comment on the matter. The four judges seemed a tad uncomfortable at the barrage of questions from journalists. The convention of recognising the privilege of the Chief Justice to form the roster and assign cases to different members/benches of the court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transaction of business of the court but no a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues.

The justices released a letter they had written to Misra.

The judiciary was shaken when impeachment proceeding was initiated in 1993 against Supreme Court judge Justice V Ramaswami for alleged corruption.

Satpathy said that like other wings of democracy, the judiciary, too, be brought under the ambit the Right to Information (RTI) to bring in more transparency.

Conventionally, it is the outgoing CJI who recommends to the President of India the name of the senior-most judge for appointment as his successor. "Democracy will not survive without a free judiciary". From now on every common man could look at all judicial order with suspicion.

"We believe we have discharged our debt to the nation."This is the first time that Supreme Court judges have made public the problems inside the highest court of the land".

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