As the government responded to the allegations of four Supreme Court judges with a studied silence, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called the points raised by the judges “extremely important” that “must be looked into carefully”. Mr Gandhi’s brief remarks came after the party said it was “deeply perturbed” by today’s developments and asked the top court’s judges to jointly take up the issues flagged by the four judges.
The Congress also asked that the petition concerning the death of Judge BH Loya should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, “who should ensure that under their supervision there is a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT (special investigation team)”.
Rahul Gandhi said he wanted to make a statement as it was a “sensitive and important issue”.
The four judges, who are most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice – said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”. An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, they said. Asked if they believed the Chief Justice should be impeached, they said, “Let the nation decide.”
The four judges, who acknowledged that it was unprecedented for them to address the media, said they had raised their concerns about assignment of cases with the Chief Justice today. When asked if their complaints include the case of the death of a CBI judge, Loya, “yes” said Justice Gogoi. He however declined to elaborate.
Judge Loya was hearing a case that accused BJP president Amit Shah of murder when he died in Nagpur in December 2014. His family has alleged that his death was unnatural and came after he was offered 100 crores as a bribe to rule in favour of the BJP leader. Medical records show Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest.
But the Congress appeared to target the government when it underlined that one of points that the judges had specifically highlighted was the “the long silence of the government of India to the memorandum of procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court”. The Congress also held the delay responsible for the nearly 40 per cent vacancies in the judiciary that it said, led to delay in justice delivery to citizens.
The second was, the party said in a statement, what was being described as ‘selectively’ assigning cases “to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment”.
The Congress also called for an end to selective assignment of cases. “Cases that have far reaching implications to society and government must be heard… by the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court,” the party said.
The Congress or its chief said nothing on reports that it was considering a petition to impeach the top judge. Congress sources said it’s “too early and at present it’s not being considered.”