NEW DELHI – Four judges from the Supreme Court of India warned on Friday that democracy in the country was in danger due to the assigning of cases by the Chief Justice of India.
In an unprecedented press conference, the four Supreme Court judges, led by the second most senior judge of the country’s top court, J. Chelameswar, and by Ranjan Gogoi, who will be succeeding chief justice Dipak Misra in October, criticized the way the cases were being assigned.
“It is with no pleasure that we have been compelled to do this. The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things that are less than desirable have happened in the last few months,” Chelameswar said.
The judge, who did not give more details, referred to a letter sent some months ago to Misra, in which the judges had criticized the way cases were being assigned.
“We collectively tried to persuade CJI that certain things aren’t in order to take remedial measures but unfortunately our efforts failed. Unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country,” he added.
The judges circulated the letter presented to Misra without making any more remarks.
In the letter, the judges say there have been instances when a case with “far-reaching consequences for the nation” has been assigned by the CJI selectively to benches “with no rationale,” although they refused to specify the cases to “avoid embarrassing the institution.”
They add that the CJI is “only the first among equals nothing more and nothing less” and that the administrative activity of assigning of cases to different benches is a mere convention and “not a recognition of superior authority.”
During the press conference, the judges acknowledged that the complaint was linked to the death of B.H. Loya – a special judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the premier investigative agency in the country – who was investigating a death in a fight with a fake police officer.
Several senior officials, including the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Shah, who was then interior minister of the state of Gujarat, were accused and eventually acquitted in the fake officer case.