SC crisis sends legal fraternity into huddle
3 Bar bodies offer mediation, urge political parties to refrain from ‘politicising’ issue
A day after the storm raised by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court as all eyes await Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s next move, the country’s top Bar associations on Saturday called emergency meetings and offered to mediate between the two sides to resolve the differences “internally” even as they asked political parties to refrain from politicising the situation. The associations — Bar Council of India (BCI), Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) — even passed unanimous resolutions to this effect.
In the meantime, two out of the four judges, who addressed the media — Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Kurian Joseph — reiterated what they stated a day ago. Nevertheless, while Justice Gogoi in Kolkata denied there was any “crisis”, Justice Joseph in Kochi maintained their statements were not personal but in the interest of the institution.
There was a buzz throughout the day that the CJI had consulted other brother judges of the court to know their views on the developments of Friday. Unconfirmed reports attributed a likely meeting between the CJI and the four judges on Sunday. The possibility of the CJI calling a Full Court meeting in the days to come after consulting the remaining 21 judges to discuss the issue is not being ruled out.
While a Full Court sitting is seldom called as it entails having the full strength of the Supreme Court judges, the issue bothering the CJI and other judges seems to be on the conduct of the four judges in going to the Press about alleged differences with the CJI. No confirmation has yet come on such a Full Court meeting, fixing, which is the CJI’s prerogative. It also depends on the availability of other brother judges.
Attorney General KK Venugopal expressed hope that the judiciary will come together to “settle” the current crisis. He told reporters, “Let’s hope everything works out well. I am sure everything will be settled.”
By evening, the BCI resolved to constitute a seven-member team to consult judges of the Supreme Court except the top five, to discuss how to resolve differences over roster or allocation of cases internally without airing views in public. BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said, “We’ve given an opportunity to (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi and political parties to talk about our judiciary. It’s unfortunate.
On behalf of Bar Council of India, I request him and other political parties to not politicise the matter.” The BCI resolved that “no political party or leader should take undue advantage of the situation”.
Even the SCBA swung into action and resolved to hold a meeting with the CJI on the issue. Senior advocate and SCBA president Vikas Singh shared a unanimous resolution adopted by the lawyers’ body that they wished to share with CJI and with other judges as well. It resolved that the differences aired by the four judges are a matter of “grave concern” and should be resolved immediately by holding of a Full Court sitting. As a step intended to resolve the crisis, Singh suggested that beginning from Monday, the listing of all PILs as a matter of rule be heard by either CJI or the senior most judges constituting the SC Collegium.
Even the SCAORA issued a resolution urging the judges of the highest court to exercise restraint and resolves issues internally as the events witnessed on Friday generated pain and concern as it “tarnished” the reputation and image of the judiciary.
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