Monday, 15 January 2018 | PNS | New Delhi-
The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Sunday swung into action to bridge the differences between the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the four senior-most judges, who revolted against the CJI on Friday on a range of issues, including alleged irregularity in allotment of cases and delay in finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure. A seven-member BCI delegation separately met the SC judges and also called on the CJI to resolve the explosive situation that has raised serious concern about the functioning of the apex court.
After an hour-long meeting between the BCI delegation and CJI Dipak Misra, BCI chairman Manan Mishra said, “We met the CJI in a congenial atmosphere and he said everything will be sorted out soon.”
The BCI chairman said they also called on Justices J Chelameshwar, MB Lokur, Kurian Joseph and said the judges gave an assurance that everything will be sorted out.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) also pitched in to contain the damage. The SCBA president Vikas Singh met the CJI and handed over a resolution on the crisis in the apex court to him. The SCBA on Saturday passed a resolution expressing “grave concern” over the differences of four senior-most judges with the CJI and said the issue should be immediately considered by the full court of the apex court.
The judges were also holding hectic parleys among themselves to find a solution to the crisis. Two top court judges — justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao — met Justice J Chelameswar, who had led the four judges in the unprecedented Press conference, at his official residence here, sources said. The meeting of these judges took place soon after the BCI delegation, the regulatory body of lawyers, met Justice Chelameswar at his residence to discuss the crisis that has hit the judiciary.
Later, the BCI delegation also met Justices Arun Mishra and RK Agarwal among others.
The apex lawyers’ body had on Saturday held a meeting to discuss the developments that has surfaced after the January 12 Press conference by justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
These four judges had raised a litany of problems, including the assigning of cases in the apex court, and said there were certain issues afflicting the country’s highest court.
The BCI had termed the Press conference by the judges as an “unfortunate step” and said, “From the letter of the judges, it appears that there were certain differences between the CJI and these judges on the issues relating to roster and the listing of some cases.”
“The delegation would request them (judges) to resolve the issue at the earliest. The council is of the unanimous view that it is an internal matter of the Supreme Court,” the BCI has said in its Press statement.
It has also cautioned political parties and politicians “not to criticise the judiciary and/or to make it an issue, because it would weaken the independence of our judiciary which is the protector of our democracy”.
The council has also expressed the hope that judges of the top court would realise the “seriousness of the issue and in future, they may avoid any such situation of which the politicians or the political parties could take undue advantage and/or which could cause harm to our judiciary”.
Besides Manan Kumar Mishra, the delegation comprises BCI co-chairman S Prabakaran and other members — Vijay Bhatt, Apurba Kumar Sharma, Pratap C Mehta, Rameshchandra G Shah and TS Ajith. BCI’s vice-chairman Satish A Deshmukh is a special invitee of the delegation.
Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of the Delhi District Court Bar Associations on Sunday termed as “unfortunate” the presser by four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and said it would take to the streets if the crisis was not resolved within 10 days.
The coordination committee of lawyers of six district courts in the national Capital after a meeting passed a resolution and said that an internal mechanism should be developed to settle such disputes in the judiciary and a judicial accountability Bill should be brought to prevent such incidents.
The panel said it would hold discussions with the bar associations across the country on the issue and threatened to take to the streets if the crisis was not resolved in 10 days.
“We, hereby, resolve that the Chief Justice of India should have kept his house in order and the grievances of the four senior-most judges should have been addressed by the CJI immediately,” a release, from the committee, said.
In another related development, four retired judges, including an ex-Supreme Court judge, on Sunday wrote an open letter to the Chief Justice of India, saying they agree with the issues raised by the four apex court judges over allocation of cases and the crisis needs to be resolved “within the judiciary”.
The letter by former apex court judge PB Sawant, ex- Chief Justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah, former Madras High Court judge K Chandru and ex-Bombay High Court judge H Suresh was given to the media. It also went viral on social media.