A crisis erupted on January 12 after four senior judges
- Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph - openly criticised the functioning of the top court headed by Chief Justice of India
Dipak Misra. The dramatic press conference held by the Supreme Court judges
to allege that sensitive and important cases were being assigned to "select benches" headed by junior SC judges in the last few months, created an unprecedented storm that is unlikely to die down too soon.
Here are top 10 developments
1. CJI meets 4 senior judges
Chief Justice of India
Dipak Misra has met with the four dissenting judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — this afternoon, and is likely to meet them once again on Wednesday. The meeting was called by CJI Misra himself and it will continue on Wednesday as issues raised at today’s meeting remained unresolved, sources said.
2. Congress slams govt for attacking judiciary through RSS functionaries
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Tuesday slammed the BJP government at the Centre for attacking the judiciary through RSS functionaries, a day after RSS leader J Nandkumar alleged ‘political conspiracy’ behind the press conference organised by four seniormost Supreme Court judges
targeting the Chief Justice of India
Dipak Misra last Friday.
In a Twitter post, Surjewala said: “Sad & deplorable! BJP attacks judiciary through RSS functionaries. All the ‘Nation’ wants is the issues raised by the Seniormost judges to be resolved, but for which ‘democracy’ is in peril. BJP Govt should help resolution then muddle & polarize.”
3. See a political conspiracy, says RSS leader
Alleging “a perfect political conspiracy” behind the press conference last Friday by four senior judges
who targeted the Chief Justice of India (CJI), a senior functionary of the RSS, pointing to its “critical timing”, has said what “they have done is unforgivable” because “they have tried to attack the uncompromising faith of the people in the judicial system”.
J Nandakumar, Akhil Bharatiya Sah Boudhik Pramukh of the RSS, in a Facebook post-January 13, has slammed the four judges for “poisoning the waters”. He has alleged that the public attack against the CJI closely followed his order to reopen cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He has also pointed out that Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal was pulled up for seeking deferment of the Ayodhya title suit case till after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
4. SC crisis seems to be unresolved: AG Venugopal
Attorney General K K Venugopal on Tuesday said the crisis in the Supreme Court seems to be unresolved and hoped it will be "fully settled" in a couple of days, remarks that come a day after he stated that everything was settled in the higher judiciary.
5. Bribery charges against judiciary in med college scam
Transcripts of phone conversations involving three accused persons in the controversial medical college bribery scam – retired Odisha high Court Judge I.M. Qudussi, middleman Vishwanath Agarwala and B.P. Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust – show that college officials had indeed planned to bribe senior functionaries of the Supreme Court and Allahabad high court to get favourable orders, according to TheWire. The matter assumes great importance in light of the ongoing fight between Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and the four senior-most puisne judges.
6. Rebel judges get back to work
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 courtrooms extended. The judges asked the staff to withdraw from the hall, leaving no clue as to what happened at the gathering of the judges.
The Supreme Court on Monday announced the composition of a 5-judge constitution bench headed by the CJI, which does not include them.
None of the four judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — feature in the list of members of the 5-judge constitution bench.
According to official information, the 5-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A K Sikri, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, will commence the hearing on a range of crucial matters from January 17.
The 5-judge bench will hear major cases such as those challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act and its 2013 judgement re-criminalising gay sex between consenting adults.
8. Supreme Court judge assigned judge Loya case broke down
This bench would also hear the contentious issue of the ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala's Sabarimala temple and resume hearing a legal query on whether a Parsi woman would lose her religious identity if she marries a man from a different religion.
The morning tea session on Monday at Judges' lounge at the Supreme Court - where the Chief Justice of India and some of the other judges met informally on Monday to settle their differences - had some emotional moments. One of the participating judges nearly broke down and Chief Justice Dipak Misra
and Justice J Chelameswar, who took him on publicly on Friday, came together to comfort him. Justice Chelameswar
was seen with his arm around the shoulder of 62-year-old Justice Arun Mishra, as the Chief Justice-led him to his chamber.
9. 'It was a storm in a tea cup': AG Venugopal
Attorney General K K Venugopal said the issue has been settled. 'Now everything has been settled. The courts are functioning. It was a storm in a tea cup'.
10. Lawyers' associations condemns judges press meet
The Co-ordination Committee of All-District Bar Associations of Delhi condemned the act of the four senior Supreme Court judges
in going public over their differences with Chief Justice Dipak Misra
but requested him to address their grievance immediately.
The co-ordination committee said that it is pained about the incident that took place on January 12 where four senior-most apex court judges - J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph - held an unprecedented press conference,saying the administration of the top court was "not in order".
"We condemn the act of the four senior-most SC judges," the committee said in a statement but requested CJI to address the grievances of the four senior judges immediately.