Chief Justice, ‘rebel’ Judges at lunch together amid patch-up efforts

Chief Justice, ‘rebel’ Judges at lunch together amid patch-up efforts

New Delhi:  Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and the four senior Judges who took him on publicly will come together today at a weekly lunch at the Supreme Court, amid efforts at ending a rift that could impact important cases.

Yesterday, the Chief Justice reached out to the Judges and, in a 15-minute meeting, reportedly discussed “all issues” including their criticism of sensitive cases being assigned to junior judges. Sources said after the meeting that “the ice has started melting”.

Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph, who are the country’s senior most after the Chief Justice, have been kept out of a Constitution Bench that will decide on eight important cases. One of them, a legal challenge to the Aadhaar system, will be taken up today.

The case involving Judge B.H. Loya’s death, which was one of the main triggers for the unprecedented crisis, could be reassigned.

The two Judges who heard the case yesterday said in an order that the case be “put up before the appropriate Bench.” That leaves the Chief Justice to decide whether to assign the case to a different set of Judges.

The four “rebel” Judges last week took the unusual step of addressing a press conference and voicing their concerns, warning that “without an independent judiciary, democracy will not survive”. Cases of “far reaching consequences”, they said, were being assigned inappropriately.

The Judges went public after the Loya case was assigned to Justice Arun Mishra, who is number 10 in the top Court’s pecking order, they implied that the Chief Justice was abusing his position as “master of the roster.”

Justice Arun Mishra reportedly broke down at a meeting with other Judges on Monday, and said he was “unfairly” targeted and questions were being raised about his “competence”.

January 17, 2018

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