SC storm still simmering, Attorney General now says issue unresolved

Illustration Ajit Ninan

Illustration Ajit Ninan

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra's decision to "selectively" assign this case to a particular bench - comprising of justices Arun Mishra and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar - was among the issues raised by the four senior Supreme Court judges in their unprecedented press conference Friday. The collegium system of appointing judges has also been questioned by many in the media, who they think is creating much opaqueness about the working and appointment of the judges.

Interestingly, the case pertaining to CBI judge B H Loya's death, one of the issues flagged by the four dissenting judges, will not be taken up.

"All our efforts have failed and we are all convinced that unless this institution is not preserved, democracy can't be protected in the country", Justice Chelameswar said.

Justice Chelameswar had also said that all the four judges "failed to persuade CJI that certain things are not in order and therefore you should take remedial measures. Let's hope things will be fully settled within 2-3 days".

Thereafter, in an informal chat, the issues raised by the four judges in their press conference January 12 were informally talked over and "resolved".

As the demand grew for an investigation into his alleged heart attack while attending a wedding, a Maharashtra journalist and activist-petitioner Tehseen Poonawalla asked for the Supreme Court to order an independent inquiry.

"The full court met". Earlier in the day, Attorney General K K Venugopal expressed the crisis will be settled soon. The government heaved a sigh of relief as it need not intervene in the matter; its stand, too, had been that the judiciary is capable of resolving the matter itself. From January 17, the 5-judge constitution bench will hear major cases such as those challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act and its 2013 judgment re-criminalising gay sex between consenting adults. Justices Arun Mishra and MM Shantanagoudar, however, ruled that the petitioners should be able to see these papers.

He said the Council members had met 15 judges of the Supreme Court following the crisis in the highest judiciary and they had assured that the issues had been resolved.

The storm kicked up last week by four Supreme Court judges, who went public with their grievances against the style of functioning of the Chief Justice of India, reported its first victim on Tuesday.

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