Judges angry about functioning of India's Supreme Court

The four, along with the CJI, are part of the Supreme Court collegium that selects judges to the apex court and high courts.

Speaking of late CBI Judge Brijgopal Loya's case - whose death was said to have occurred under mysterious circumstances - Bhushan said: "It should have been listed before senior SC judges in view of the importance of the case, but instead was listed in Court Number 10, which is of Justice Arun Mishra". "Our judiciary is reputed all over the world, independent and they will sort the matter themselves", said minister of state for law P P Chaudhury.

The government has no say in it and does not wish to interfere, the sources said.

The media conference, held at the residence of Justice Chelameswar, was the first of its kind for sitting judges of the Supreme Court on various issues relating to the apex judiciary.

The court was hearing two separate pleas seeking an independent probe into the death of judge Loya, who presided over the case in connection with the alleged staged encounter of suspected Sohrabuddin.

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A note caution sounded by the four judges was, "Four of us have been telling the CJI Dipak Misra to correct his ways for the sake of the institution".

Separately, last November, the chief justice overturned an order by Chelameswar that referred a case to a bench of the five most senior judges. The judges pointed out that the CJI used his discretionary powers to allocate important cases which affect national interest, selectively to his bench rather than allocating them on a rationale. The four judges had tried to meet the CJI to prevail upon him to take corrective action and not assign cases arbitrarily but in vain.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the Bombay Lawyers Association, told the bench that the Bombay High Court was seized of the matter and the bench should not hear the plea. However, Justice Chelameswar was sworn in after the current Chief Justice Dipak Misra, despite being senior; thereby, robbing him of the chance to become the Chief Justice. No formal notices were issued to the respondent - instead, those were issued only to the counsel for the respondent in a case where high stakes were involved, he had said.

After that came the judgment in the Justice C S Karnan case, in which the SC "underlined the need to revisit the process of selection and appointment of judges to the constitutional courts", Choudhary said. "We all (four judges) are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and (is allowed to) maintain its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country or any country", Justice Chelameswar added. "We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation".

Efforts to alert the chief justice that certain things were not in order and that remedial measures were needed had failed, prompting the news conference, Chelameswar said. India's Supreme Court will begin hearing a plea to probe Loya's death on January 15.

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