Now it is up to the CJI to assign this case to another bench, which will be known in the next few days.
New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who reac-hed out to the four rebel judges — J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Mad-an B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — on Tuesday, could not continue his efforts to arrive at a settlement as Justice Chelameswar had taken ill and did not attend the court on Wednesday.
At the customary common lunch meet in the afternoon on Wednes-day, the CJI and 22 other judges, including three of the four judges, were present. Highly-placed sources explained that in Justice Chelameswar’s absence, further talks were not possible and it was likely that the CJI may “break the ice” on Thursday.
Sources said the idea of the four judges who had raised the banner of revolt against the CJI’s style of functioning was to have a stronger institution, and they are prepared for a settlement. Sources confirmed that nothing concrete had emerged so far.
They, however, said that it was now up to the CJI to come out with a plan of action to resolve the issues that were raised by the four at a press conference on January 12.
When something develops, they are ready for a debate, the sources add-ed. Justice Ranjan Gogoi met Justice Chelames-war at his residence on Wednesday to enquire about his health.
Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud are mediating with the four judges and the Chief Justice to hammer out a solution at the earliest, keeping in mind the fact that the judiciary’s image was already dented by the unilateral move by the four judges to air their grievances before the media. A resolution and some administrative changes in the Supreme Court that address the grievances of the four judges are imminent, the sources added.
On Tuesday Justice Arun Mishra, who heard the Judge B.H. Loya death probe case along with Justice Santanagouder, passed an order late in the night that the matter should be listed before an appropriate bench. He then recused himself from hearing this case, which had become a political issue with the Congress demanding a probe by a special investigation team. Now it is up to the CJI to assign this case to another bench, which will be known in the next few days.
According to sources, on Monday there were heated exchanges among the judges over the manner in which the four judges took up the issue before the media and a few other judges supported Justice Arun Mishra over his outburst. One of the rebel judges walked up to Justice Mishra, expressed regret and pacified him. The CJI also pacified the judge and escorted him to his chambers.
On Friday last, the four rebels, in an unprecedented move in the annals of the Indian judiciary, had questioned the “unilateral and biased” decisions of Chief justice Dipak Misra in the allocation of “important” cases to junior judges. They felt they were being sidelined and alleged that the situation in the Supreme Court was not in order, saying many “less than desirable” things had taken place in the past few months.
In an apparent warning, the judges said lack of impartiality in the allocation of high-profile cases and the constitution of benches with junior judges could imperil India’s democracy. They said though they wrote a seven-page letter to the CJI two months ago (on the allocation of work), he had not acted on it. What turned out to be the flashpoint was the allocation of two petitions seeking a probe into the death of CBI judge B.H. Loya, who had refused to discharge BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, to a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.