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Supreme Court crisis: Bar Council forms team and top 10 developments

Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four Supreme Court judges who virtually revolted against the chief justice, on Saturday said there was no need for an outside intervention

Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Judiciary on trial
Illustration by Binay Sinha

The Bar Council of India has set up a seven-member team in an attempt to resolve the differences between the four dissenting and (CJI) Dipak Misra. The team is expected to start its deliberations with all judges, except the top five, immediately.

The Supreme Court Bar Association also passed a resolution on Saturday that the rift should be considered by a full bench of the apex court. It also said that the CJI or senior judges should look at all public interest litigations.

Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four who virtually revolted against the chief justice, on Saturday said there was no need for an outside intervention to solve the issue, while the apex court bar body called for a full court consideration of the matter. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was also among the four judges, told PTI in Kolkata, "There is no crisis." He made the remark on the sidelines of a programme, when asked about the way forward to resolve the crisis in the top court.

Justice Joseph said the matter was not brought to the attention of the President of India as he has no constitutional responsibility over the Supreme Court or the judges of the apex court. He said there was no constitutional lapse from the part of CJI but convention, practice, and procedure has to be followed while carrying out his responsibility. "We just brought that matter to his attention," he said at an event near Kochi.

Top 10 developments in the Supreme Court crisis:

1) The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) expressed "grave concern" over the differences of the four seniormost judges with CJI Dipak Misra.

The SCBA executive committee, which held an emergency meeting, resolved that all public interest litigation (PIL) matters, including the pending PILs, should be either taken up by the CJI or be assigned for adjudication to the four senior judges who were part of the apex court collegium.

ALSO READ: Bar Council of India forms 7-member team to meet SC judges barring top 5

2) Meanwhile, the Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex body of lawyers, formed a seven-member team to meet the judges of the Supreme Court on Sunday to discuss the present crisis in the apex court.

ALSO READ: Issues raised by Supreme Court judges internal matter of judiciary: Sources

It passed a resolution, saying no political party or leaders should take "undue advantage" of the situation arising out of the press conference by the top court judges.

In an unprecedented move, justices J Chelameswar, Gogoi, M B Lokur and Joseph, had launched a public attack against the CJI, listing a litany of problems, including the issue of assigning of cases.

The BCI cautioned the political parties and leaders from taking an "undue advantage" of the situation in the apex court.

It said the four senior-most judges going public with their differences with the CJI had given an opportunity to the political parties and leaders to interfere in the affairs of the judiciary.

Without taking any name, BCI chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra said, "No political party or leader should take an undue advantage of the situation arising out of the press conference of the four senior "

The reference to political parties and leaders assumes significance as Congress president Rahul Gandhi had on Friday addressed the media after the judges went public with their grievances.

At an emergency meeting called by the BCI's governing body, comprising 17 members, the resolution was passed, saying the seven-member committee would meet all the apex court judges tomorrow. Mishra later said that the members of the committee would also meet the four judges and, in the end, the CJI. The BCI said it was of the view that such issues should not be made public.

3) "An issue was raised. Those concerned have listened to it. Such actions would not occur in future. So (I) believe that the issue has been settled," Justice Joseph told reporters on the sidelines of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Major Archiespicopal Status of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kakkanad near Kochi.

"There is no need for outside intervention to solve the matter because its is a matter (that) occurred within an institution. Necessary steps would be taken by the institution itself to sort it out," he said, when asked if an outside intervention was required to solve the matter.

Earlier, he rejected suggestions that they had violated discipline and expressed the hope that their action will bring in more transparency in the administration of the Supreme Court.

"Stood up for justice and judiciary...That is what we said there (in New Delhi) on Friday. Nothing beyond that," Justice Joseph said in Malayalam when local television news channels approached him at his ancestral home in Kalady near Kochi seeking his reaction on Friday's development.

ALSO READ: Supreme Court judges' rare public feud endangers investor confidence

4) A day after the presser by the four judges, TV visuals on Saturday showed prime minister's Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra turning up at the residence of the CJI.

The visuals showed Nripendra Misra driving to the CJI's official residence here. However, the gates were not opened and after waiting for a while, the principal secretary to the prime minister was seen driving back.

5) After the visuals were aired, the Congress party on Saturday asked the PM to explain the reason for sending his 'special messenger' (Nripendra Misra) to meet the CJI.

"As PM's Principal Secretary, Nripendra Misra visits CJI's residence at 5, Krishna Menon Marg; PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to Chief Justice of India," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.

It all started when news agency ANI reported on Saturday afternoon that Nriprendra Misra was "seen outside" the CJI's residence. "On the way to office, I stopped at the CJI's residence, and left my card at the gate with Happy New Year greetings. I did not meet the CJI," Nripendra Misra told the media later.

Attorney General K K Venugopal was also slated to meet the CJI. Government sources said the CJI in turn was expected to meet the four judges on Sunday.

6) SCBA President and senior advocate Vikas Singh said that a resolution for the full court consideration was passed as it is a mechanism in which deliberations by all the judges of the top court takes place in-house and not in the open.

ALSO READ: Shekhar Gupta: Judiciary on trial: It is up to CJI Misra to end this crisis

The SCBA resolution said that matters listed for hearing in the apex court on January 15 "should also be transferred" from other judges to the five senior-most judges who were part of the collegium.

7) In Mumbai, BJP ally Shiv Sena's chief Uddhav Thackeray said attempts were being made to make the judiciary "deaf and dumb". Thackeray said the government should not meddle in the matter and allow the judiciary to do its work.

"The decision of those judges should be lauded. There is a high possibility that there will be an inquiry called against them now. However, it should be unbiased," he added.

8) Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who has turned a critic of the Modi government in the recent times, said in Noida that his party colleagues and ministers should "get rid of their fear" and "speak up for democracy", just like the four who came out publicly against the CJI. Sinha, a former finance and external affairs minister, said the prevailing atmosphere was like the Emergency in 1975-77 and voiced concern over short parliamentary sessions.

If Parliament is compromised, the Supreme Court is not in order, democracy is threatened, he said.

9) In Lucknow, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids at the residences of Karti Chidambaram was to distract people from the issues raised by the judges. The ED on Saturday conducted searches at 10 premises linked to Karti Chidambaram in connection with money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis case.

10) The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam asked President Ram Nath Kovind to intervene in the matter. "In case, if a stage comes wherein judges could not resolve the issue, President Kovind should intervene and resolve it," party’s working president M K Stalin said in Chennai.

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 09:40 IST