Restoring order in the court 

Restoring order in the court 

Context

All the judges of the Supreme Court should sort out their differences internally and amicably

What

  • The darkest day in the history of the judiciary in independent India is January 12, 2018. On this day, in an unprecedented move, the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, and Kurian Joseph — held a press conference and raised a banner of revolt against the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dipak Misra
  • They alleged that the CJI has been assigning cases, which have far-reaching consequences to the nation, selectively to Benches of his preference, thus ignoring well established convention

Divided opinion

  • Few feel that the image and reputation of the judiciary has been tarnished, and the confidence of the people in the judiciary shaken.
  • However, a few former judges and lawyers have sought to justify the action by asserting that the judges had no other choice as their repeated pleas to the CJI, including the one on January 12 morning, did not bring about the desired result

Focus should be on raised issues

Disapproval of the form of protest must not cloud the substance of the grievances

Serious damage done

If the judges themselves could have sat together and sorted out their differences, why did they go to the press and damage the image of the judiciary?

Opportunity for the politicians

The judges have also given an opportunity to politicians to fish in troubled waters

The common man, who had absolute faith in the institution and in the impartiality of judges, is now let to suspect that court decisions may not be purely based on merit.

Advice to settle the issue amicably

  • The conduct of the CJI and the Prime Minister in maintaining silence on the developments is commendable.
  • The Central government has also rightly made its position clear that this being an internal matter of the judiciary, it will not intervene.
  • The stand taken by the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court Bar Association is also praiseworthy. Both have urged the Supreme Court judges to discuss the issues and settle them amicably by themselves
  • The Attorney General of India has also expressed the same opinion and is optimistic that the problem will be solved by the judges themselves.

The captain’s responsibility

Of course, the CJI also cannot absolve himself of his responsibility for the present state of affairs

CJI can’t be arbitrary

  • No doubt, he is the master of the roster, but that does not mean that he can act arbitrarily in exercising his powers
  • He has to exercise his powers reasonably, without giving scope for any justifiable criticism.

Listen to suggestions

He is also not expected to brush aside any reasonable suggestions in this regard from his colleagues

Conclusion

Let us hope that all the judges of the Supreme Court, including the CJI, will sort out their differences amicably and find a satisfactory solution to the problem. This will not only restore the diminishing image of the judiciary to some extent, but also put an end to the public debate on these issues.

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