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Uneasy calm after the 3-day storm as Supreme Court judges get back to work

Though they come to court at 10.30 am sharp every working day, they were late by 10 minutes, leading to speculation at the Bar that things might escalate into something bigger

M J Antony  |  New Delhi 

Perturbed by Thursday's order, the CJI said there were hundreds of matters listed in the Supreme Court daily and if the orders were passed like this, then the SC cannot function

The three-day commotion over the functioning of the Supreme Court, a matter flagged by four senior judges, appeared to have petered out on Monday when all the top five judges involved in the matter, including the Chief Justice, resumed work.

Though they come to court at 10.30 am sharp every working day, they were late by 10 minutes, leading to speculation at the Bar that things might escalate into something bigger.

The routine tea ceremony they hold every morning before they come to their respective court rooms extended. The judges asked the staff to withdraw from the hall, leaving no clue as to what happened at the gathering of the judges.

Justice Jasti Chelameswar, No 2 in the hierarchy who led the assault on the Chief Justice at his (the former’s) house on Friday, heard the 60 cases listed before him in the normal way. It was also business as usual for Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is expected to be the next Chief Justice, Justice Madan Lokur, and Justice Kurian Joseph, who had addressed the press conference on Friday.

Chief refused to be dragged into the controversy despite some lawyers trying to tease some reaction from him. One lawyer, R P Luthra, made a long speech in the court room, condemning what he described as a conspiracy to destroy the institution, but the only reaction from the Chief Justice was a benign smile.

The other two judges did not show any emotion. The Bar Council of India (BCI) team, which had met the Chief Justice and some other judges, said that everything was normal and the courts were working as before.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, who led a seven-member delegation and had parleys with 15 judges including the CJI on Sunday, said the controversial issues flagged by the four judges were “internal issues of the family” which have been resolved internally.

“Kahani khatam ho gaya (the story is over now),” he said even as he cautioned political parties and their leaders not to take mileage from the January 12 press conference by the four judges to raise problems, including the assigning of cases, saying the matter should not be politicised.

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Attorney General K K Venugopal affirmed in the morning that all issues had been settled. “Everything is under control,” he said.

However, the Bench that was to hear the petition seeking investigation into the mysterious death of Judge B H Loya, who was hearing the case of the death of Sohrabuddin in 2005, did not sit on Friday as scheduled. One of the judges on the Bench, Justice Mohan Shantangouder, was not available.

The presiding judge, Justice Arun Misra, therefore could not hold the court. The case is likely to be heard by the same Bench on Tuesday. Judge Loya’s death was supposedly one of the key points of discord among the judges, though the four judges who held the press conference on Friday did not elaborate on it.

It has been alleged by a section of the lawyers that the sensitive case in which BJP President Amit Shah’s name has come up was given to a Bench of junior judges. They argue that such matters should have been listed before senior judges. Allocating cases to different Benches by the Chief Justice in his administrative capacity is an issue that is yet to be sorted out.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Tue, January 16 2018. 08:10 IST