Unity among Supreme Court judges will return by Monday, Attorney General KK Venugopal told NDTV today, referring to the unprecedented rift among the judiciary that came into the open after four of the Supreme Court’s most senior judges publicly questioned the conduct of the Chief Justice of India.
“By Monday morning, litigants and lawyers will see unity among Supreme Court Judges,” Mr Venugopal told NDTV. “We hope the entire issue will be settled in the larger interest of the institution. Judges are persons of wisdom and statesmanship and experience. We hope they won’t allow the issue to escalate.”
Sources said the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, is likely to meet the four judges tomorrow. Three of the judges, who are out of Delhi, will return for the meeting, sources said.
There was speculation that the Prime Minister’s Office had been trying to reach out to Mr Misra after his Principal Secretary, Nripendra Misra, was seen visiting the CJI’s house. But Mr Misra said the visit was a personal one and he had not managed to meet Mr Misra.
The Congress has called out the Prime Minister on the visit. The party’s senior leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted: 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”.
The judges, who met Mr Misra last on Friday morning to convey their concerns, said they decided to go public after they failed to make any progress. CJI Misra has not spoken on the issue so far and the government has said it is an internal matter of the judiciary.
The four judges — Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph – had told the media that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”. They expressed concerns about the assignment of sensitive cases and what they called a lack of transparency in the process. As the “Master of the roster”, the Chief Justice decides on the allotment of cases. But the judges said the Master of the Roster is only the “first among equals”.
Sources in the judiciary told NDTV there is no bias and the cases are distributed fairly among judges.
The public criticism has stunned the legal circles, most of whom questioned the move. Sources in the Supreme Court Bar Association have expressed disapproval, saying the judges should have called a full court meeting and if the Chief Justice had been unable to address their concerns, they could have approached the President of India.
Earlier, Mr Venugopal, the government’s top lawyer, had said yesterday’s press conference by the dissenting judges “could have been avoided” but he had assured that the top judges would “fully resolve” their differences within a few days.
The judges, he had said, have “suddenly realized” the kind of exposure the matter would get and the effect it could have on the people’s confidence in the Supreme Court.