NEW DELHI: Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday declined an invitation from the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for a farewell event in his honour, citing personal reasons.
Justice Chelameswar retires on June 22, but the event was scheduled for May 18, the last working day of the apex court before it breaks for a six-week summer vacation on May 20.
Justice Chelameswar reportedly told the members of SCBA that he was not comfortable with such events.
Confirming the development, SCBA President Vikas Singh said, “I had personally spoken to him, but he has said no.”
According to custom, the Chief Justice of India attends the farewell function along with the Attorney General, the SC Bar Association president, and other judges and lawyers.
Justice Chelameswar refusing such an invitation is not new. He had earlier declined to attend a farewell event on his transfer from the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Justice Chelameswar did not come to the apex court for judicial work on Wednesday and also missed the traditional Wednesday lunch of the judges, when they take turns to bring home-made food of their home state.
He has been at the centre of controversies this year since he addressed a press conference, along with Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur, and Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court, at his residence in Delhi in January. He publicly criticised the way the Supreme Court was being administered under Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Justice Chelameswar also wrote to the Chief Justice expressing concern over the propriety of the law ministry writing directly to the Karnataka High Court despite the collegium reiterating its recommendation for elevation of a judge to the High Court. Last month, at a public event, the judge had made it clear that he was not averse to putting his views on the judiciary in the public domain, and that he wanted the system to be fixed for public good.
Justice Chelameswar had also refused to act as the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority, a position meant for the most senior judge in the Supreme Court. He declined a similar position in the state legal services authority.