Bar Council of India forms 7-member team to meet Supreme Court judges barring top 5

The Bar Council of India today formed a seven-member team to meet all judges of the Supreme Court, barring the five seniormost judges, to discuss the present crisis in the apex court.

Published: 13th January 2018 07:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2018 01:49 PM   |  A+A-

Justice J Chelameswar and three other sitting Supreme Court judges addressing a press conference in New Delhi. (PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India today formed a seven-member team to meet all judges of the Supreme Court, barring the five seniormost judges, to discuss the present crisis in the apex court.

It passed a resolution saying no political party or leaders should take undue advantage of the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior Supreme Court judges.

BCI chairperson Manan Kumar Misra said that the apex bar body has formed the seven-member team to meet all judges of the Supreme Court barring the five seniormost judges to discuss the present crisis.

The top lawyers' body also resolved that it will take the opinion of other judges and expressed the view that such issues of judges should not be made public.

Yesterday, justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Jurian Joseph had mounted a virtual revolt against the chief justice, listing a litany of problems including the assigning of cases.

Three of the four judges, who had attacked the Chief Justice at a press conference here on Friday, were away from the capital and are expected to return on Sunday afternoon.

Indications of a meeting to resolve the crisis were already brought up today from the remarks made by Justices Kurian Joseph and Ranjan Gogoi and Attorney General KK Venugopal, the government's highest law officer.

Justice Joseph said in Kochi that there was no constitutional crisis in the apex court and the issues they had raised appeared to have been sorted out.

"We did this for a cause and I think (the) issues appear to have been sorted out. This was not against anyone nor are we having anything personal. It was meant to see that more transparency is there," said Justice Joseph.

He, however, did not elaborate.

Justice Joseph said the issues they had raised in an unprecedented press conference on Friday triggered no constitutional crisis.

"There will be no constitutional crisis and there are only problems in procedures and that will be corrected."

He said the judges had "written everything in the letter" they released on Friday and which they had sent to Justice Misra a couple of months ago.

Asked whether he felt that the judges should not have come out in the open with their grievances against the Chief Justice, he said: "Any problem, everyone can see two sides. Whatever we have to say we have written in the letter." 

In reply to a question on why they failed to brief the President of the issues, he said the President is only the appointing authority.

Ranjan Gogoi, who was in Kolkata for a meeting of legal services authorities, also ruled out any crisis hitting the top court. "There is no crisis," he said, but refused to make any further comments.

The Attorney General, meanwhile, expressed the hope that the problems in the top judiciary would be "settled" by Monday.

"Unity among Supreme Court judges will return by Monday. We hope the entire issue will be settled in the larger interest of the institution. Judges are persons of wisdom and statesmanship and experience. We hope they won't allow the issue to escalate," Venugopal said here.

Venugopal on Friday had said the judges could have avoided going public with their complaints against Justice Misra. 

The Bar Council of India (BCI) met here on Saturday and unanimously decided that a seven-member delegation of the bar would try to meet majority of Supreme Court judges on Sunday in an attempt to persuade them to resolve the issue at the earliest.

"We are ready to offer our mediation," Manan Misra, BCI President, told the media after the meeting. He said the matter should not be politicised.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra was on Saturday morning seen driving to the residence of the Chief Justice. He was seen sitting inside his official car which returned from the gate of the Chief Justice's residence without entering the premises.

The Congress asked Modi to explain why he sent his aide to Justice Misra's residence.

"As PM's Principal Secretary, Nripendra Misra visits CJI's residence at 5, Krishna Menon Marg. (The) PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to (the) Chief Justice of India," tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The revolt by Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B Lokur surfaced in a press conference in which they accused the Chief Justice of not strictly adhering to the rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches, which they said could create "doubts" about the integrity of the top court.

Senior BJP leader and former minister Yashwant Sinha said on Saturday said it was "our bounden duty to take note of what the judges have said and raise our voice for corrective action".

Sinha, who finds himself at variance with his party's stand and policies, said fear stopped people from speaking out.

"If four senior judges have gone public then how is it a Supreme Court matter? It is a serious matter. If they say anything to the people of the country, it is our bounded duty to take note of that."

(With inputs from IANS)

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