Senior judges open rift with India's chief justice

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra

The four justices at Friday's news conference - besides Chelameswar, they included Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph - are the most senior after Misra.

Four Supreme Court judges on Friday said the administration of the apex court is "sometimes not in order" and many "less than desirable things" have taken place.

"This unprecedented press conference by the four most senior judges stemmed from the manner in which the chief justice was continuing to abuse his power as master of roster", Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan told Al Jazeera.

Asked to give an example of what was not in order, Justice Chelameswar said: "A couple of months ago, the four of us gave a signed letter to the CJI".

Former Supreme Court Justice RS Sodhi said that he was "pained" that a press conference had to be called by SC judges and that despite a difference of opinion within the collegium earlier "no one went to the press".

The Justice Chelameshwar began press conference by terming it as the extraordinary event in the history of the judiciary in India.

Loya's family have raised questions about the circumstances of the judge's death, according to India's Caravan magazine. Unfortunately, we couldn't convince him.

The four judges also touched upon another controversial issue, the Memorandum of Procedure on appointment of judges over which the Supreme Court had locked horns with the government.

Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Madan Lokur address a press conference in New Delhi on Jan 12, 2018.

When asked if the CJI should be impeached, justice Chelameswar said 'let the nation decide that'.

"This is not a political meeting", he said, adding that the judges were releasing a letter detailing their concerns.

The judges said that they are forced to "address the nation" as the Chief Justice Dipak Misra was not ready to listen their reservation.

Indian Supreme Court has 25 judges appointed by the president, including the chief justice. "That is what we believe and many more things happened".

The judges said that the administration of the country's highest court was not in order and warned that democracy would not survive in the country unless the institution was preserved.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the allegations by the judges "merit a thorough, proper investigation and understanding of how independence and integrity of judiciary is being interfered or is being affected, which is impermissible in a secular democratic republic".

The apex court has posted the next hearing on the issue for Monday, 15 January. He was the CBI judge hearing the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, which was transferred by the Supreme Court from Gujarat to Mumbai in September 2013.

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