Four senior-most Supreme Court judges on Friday openly pointed the finger at Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra over “arbitrary” allocation of certain cases with far-reaching consequences to particular benches. These questions were raised earlier also by advocates representing civil society and NGOs.
Of the four judges who went public with their dissent, Justice Ranjan Gogoi admitted that the issue also involved assigning special judge B H Loya’s death case. A 2G-related case was also shifted recently from Justice J Chelameswar’s court to the bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra.
Questions were raised on the propriety of the CJI in fixing a PIL filed by NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, who sat in court number 6.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave had then sought the matter to be heard by a bench led by Justice Chelameswar, who is number two in seniority, as the issue involved bribery charges against judges in the medical colleges scam. Justice Chelameswar then decided to set up a Constitution bench to hear a similar PIL filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal for an independent probe into the charges of bribery against judges.
The CJI-headed five judge bench subsequently overturned the order passed by Justice Chelameswar. A plea by Jaiswal as well as another one by CJAR was later dismissed by a three-judge bench, also including Justice Arun Mishra. The court also imposed Rs 25 lakh cost on the NGO for making baseless allegations against the judiciary.
A PIL filed by NGO Common Cause challenging the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as CBI special director was again posted before a bench presided over by Justice R K Agrawal after Justice Navin Sinha, sitting with senior judge Ranjan Gogoi in court number 2, had recused.
The case again resulted in dismissal.
The names of four senior-most judges – Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – did not figure in the Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in hearing the Aadhaar case, Delhi Versus Lieutenant Governor and others. The activists were also apparently unhappy with the CJI’s recent decision to speed up hearing in the Babri Masjid Ram Janmabhoomi case.
Earlier, the allocation of cases related to former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Kalikho Pul’s suicide and Sahara-Birla diary were questioned during the tenure of then CJI J S Khehar.