People's confidence in judiciary affected, ball in CJI's court to resolve issues: Soli Sorabjee on impeachment row

Eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee also termed the press conference of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court raising issues involving Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as "inappropriate".

Published: 08th May 2018 07:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th May 2018 07:11 PM   |  A+A-

Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee. | File Photo

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Asserting that people's confidence in the judiciary has been affected due to recent events involving judges of the Supreme Court, eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee has said the "ball lies in the court of the Chief Justice" now to resolve issues through consultations.

In an interview to PTI, he said the judiciary is going through a phase which was "not desirable" and "unfortunate" as it affects the public's confidence in the judiciary, and also in its capacity to dispense free and fearless justice.

"It (functioning of the judiciary) should be done in a harmonious manner and that's the real thing and that's where the ball lies in the court of the Chief Justice. Chief justice should again consult his colleagues in the collegium, talk to them, resolve whatever it is," the former attorney general said.

On the collegium deferring the decision on the Centre sending back a recommendation on the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court, Sorabjee said there may be differences, but it is necessary that the collegium should speak in one voice.

He also termed the press conference of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court raising issues involving Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra as "inappropriate".

"This is not good. I am very distressed, these things really affect the confidence of the litigating public. Then they (public) are not sure whether this judge or that judge will give them justice," he said.

In an unprecedented move, four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court -- J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph-- held a press conference in January in which they had virtually revolted against the CJI by raising a number of issues.

Asked if these developments have affected the confidence of the public in the judiciary, Sorabjee said there is an impact "to some extent" and that is "all the more reason that confidence must be restored by the collegium speaking in one voice.

"The eminent jurist also backed the collegium procedure saying the government has the option to say it cannot accept a certain name and give reasons for it. The government has the right to send it back and give reasons while doing so, but it does not have a "veto", he added.

"Collegium should consider those reasons, and if it finds there is nothing in it, it can reiterate its recommendation. If in a given case it finds there is something they are not aware of. They may rethink their position," he said, adding that there "shouldn't be a tug of war".

The whole idea is to see that the reputation of the judiciary of the meeting of independent justice should not be affected in any manner, he said.

"We don't want Sarkari judges. There may be judges who are not so brilliant as others but they should be true to their oaths of office," he said.

Asked about the issue of allocation of cases, Sorabjee said the Chief Justice was the master of the roster, but added that it was the "least imperfect way".

His comments also come days after the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising Chief Justice Misra and justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had last week deferred its decision on the Centre's communication asking it to reconsider its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court.

"It (the government) can send back (the recommendation), but then it is for the collegium to consider the government's viewpoint, government's objections, government's misgivings and if the collegium reiterates it, the government is bound to then accept it," the 88-year-old jurist added.

Sorabjee also termed the Congress-led notice for impeachment against CJI Misra as "absolutely misconceived".

"Impeachment can be for proved misbehaviour not because certain judgement is rather not correct", he argued.

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