NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented move, four senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday went public, saying the administration of the apex court is
“sometimes not in order” and “less than desirable things” have occurred.
The second senior most judge of the top court Justice J Chelameswar held a press conference at his Tughlaq Road residence where three other senior judges were also present and addressed the media on various issues relating to the apex court judiciary.The other judges were Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
Justice Chelameswar said: “It is an extraordinary event in the history of Indian judiciary. The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Anything that is less than desirable has happened. Time and again the senior members of the courts have tried to persuade the CJI that pertains things are not in order, they need remedial measures but nothing happened. We wrote a letter to the CJI but we received no response. We were left with no choice but to address the nation about it. All four of us are convinced that unless the institutions are not preserved, democracy cannot survive.”
Justice Chelameswar further said, “We have spotted things in the last few months. Tried to intervene but to no avail. Twenty years from now, the nation should not say we sold our souls. The integrity of the SC is at stake. The survival of independent institutions, be it any, must be strengthened. We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing the Chief Justice to take steps to protect the institution.’’
First 4 Pages Of The Letter To CJI:
Dear Chief Justice,
it is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you so as to highlight certain judicial order passed by this court because adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system and the independence of the high courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the efforts of the Honourable the Chief Justice of India.
From the date of establishment of the three Chartered high courts of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, certain traditions and conventions in the judicial administration have been well established. The traditions were embraced by this court which came into existence almost a century of the above mentioned chartered high courts. These traditions have their roots in the anglo-saxon jurisprudence and practices.
Of the well settled principles is that the chief justice is the master of the roaster with a privilege to determine the Roaster necessity in multi-number courts for an orderly transaction of business and appropriate arrangements with respect to matter with which number bunch of this court, as the case say be, is required to deal with which case or class of cases is to be made. The convention of recognising the privilege of the Chief Justice to form the roaster and assign cases to different members/benches of the court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transaction of business of the court but not a recognition of any superior authority, legal of actual of the chief justice over his colleagues.
It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the chief justice is not only the first amongst the equals- nothing more or nothing less. In the matter of determination of the roaster, there are well-settled and time-honored conventions guiding the chief justice, dealing with the strength of the bench which is required to deal with the particular case or composition thereof.
A necessary corollary to the above-mentioned principle is the member of any multi-numbered judicial body, including this court would not arrogate to themselves, the authority to deal with the pronounce upon a matter which ought to be heard by a appropriate benches, both composition wise and strength why is due to regard to the roast of fixed.
Any departures from the above two rules would not only lead to unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution. Not to talk about the chaos that would result from such departure.
We are sorry to say that off late the twin rules mentioned above have not been strictly adhere to. There have been instances where case having for reaching consequences for the nation and the institution have been assigned by the Chief Justice of this court selectively to the ‘benches of their preference’ without any rational basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs.
We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this institutions to some extent.
In the above context, we deem it proper to address you presently with regard to the order dated 27th October, 2017 in ‘Arti Luthra vs Union of India to the effect that there should be no for the delay in finalising the Memorandum of procedure in the larger public interest. When the Memorandum of procedure was the subject matter of decision of the Constitution bench of this court in Supreme Court advocates on record association and ANR vs. Union of India2016. It is difficult to understand as to how any other bench could have dealt with the matter.