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Judges vs CJI row: Bar Council says 'minor issue' did not require media spotlight

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra today said that the matter should have been sorted out internally rather than bringing it on a public platform.

Judges vs CJI row: Bar Council says 'minor issue' did not require media spotlight
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NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India on Saturday criticised four Supreme Court judges  , who had questioned Chief Justice of India a day earlier, on a 'minor issue' of rostering.

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said that the matter should have been sorted out internally rather than bringing it on a public platform.

"Holding a press conference on a minor issue of the roster is saddening. The Bar Council believes that the matter should have been sorted out internally. If no consensus was achieved, other judges or members of the Bar Council could have been involved. However, it should not have been discussed on a public platform. The judiciary will be weakened as a result of this, and subsequently, the democracy," Mishra was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

He added that a meeting of the members will be held at 5 pm today evening, following which the delegation is expected to meet Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and other senior judges, in a bid to prevent such situations in the future.

"We have a meeting at 5 pm today. Tomorrow, our delegation will meet those senior judges, CJI Misra, and other judges, and request them to not bring issues like these in front of the public," he said.

In a first, four judges of the apex court, namely Justices Madan B. Lokur, Kurien Joseph, Ranjan Gogoi and Jasti Chelameswar held a press conference where they questioned the conduct of the CJI and claimed that their efforts in convincing the latter to take steps to protect the institution have gone in vain.

The ambiguous allegations by the judges had prompted media persons to ask if it related to the case of CBI Judge Loya's death, to which Justice Gogoi replied in the affirmative, albeit hesitantly. 

Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four senior Supreme Court judges who virtually revolted against the country's chief justice over "selective" case allocation and certain judicial orders, today expressed confidence that the the issues raised by them would be resolved.

Joseph said that they acted solely in the interest of judiciary and justice, a day after he and the three other judges took the unprecedented step of addressing a press conference.

He rejected suggestions that they had violated discipline and expressed the hope that their actions will bring in more transparency in the administration of the Supreme Court.

"Stood up for justice and judiciary.... That is what we said there (in New Delhi) yesterday. Nothing beyond that," Justice Joseph said in Malayalam when local television news channels approached him at his ancestral home in Kalady near here seeking his reaction on yesterday's development. "An issue has come to attention. It will certainly be solved since it has come to the attention," he told reporters today. 

Meanwhile, Congress today questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi why he sent his Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra to Chief Justice Dipak Misra's residence here, a day after four senior Supreme Court judges took on Justice Misra over the allocation of benches, among other issues.

Nripendra Misra was seen on Saturday sitting in his car outside Justice Misra`s residence in New Delhi. "As PM's Principal Secretary, Nripendra Misra visits CJI`s residence at 5, Krishna Menon Marg; PM must answer the reason for sending this special messenger to Chief Justice of India," tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

On Friday, in an unprecedented move, the four senior-most judges in the Supreme Court burst out in the open and 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.

Speaking to the media at the residence of Justice Chelameswar, the judges said the Supreme Court administration was "not in order" and released an undated letter they wrote to Justice Misra in which they conceded that the CJI was the "master of the roster" but this was "not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual, of the Chief Justice over his colleagues".

The four judges were Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur, besides Justice Chelameswar.