Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

If Justice Gogoi Isn't Made CJI, It Will Only Prove What We Said: Justice Chelameswar

“Hope it doesn't happen but if it does, it will prove everything that we said at the press conference was true.”

PTI File Photo

Days after writing a letter to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, seeking a full court on the judicial side to discuss the matter of government interference in appointment of judges to high courts, Supreme Court Judge Justice Jasti Chelameswar on Saturday said he won't take up any government assignment after his retirement.

Addressing a Harvard Club of India event on the “Role of Judiciary in a Democracy” in conversation with journalist Karan Thapar, Chelameswar said four senior judges of the Supreme Court on January 12 held the press conference because they “couldn't achieve the best for the system”.
“We did the presser because of anguish…we didn't have any other option,” Chelameswar said.
At the press conference, the judges, including Chelameswar himself, Justices Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, listed a litany of problems that they said are afflicting the country’s highest court and warned they could destroy Indian democracy. The unprecedented move left the judiciary and observers stunned, leaving uncertain how this open dissension in the hallowed institution would be resolved.
"You can't avoid criticism if you are a public servant…But I don't have qualms about going public with my views concerning judiciary," Chelameswar said, adding that all democracies are kind of experiments..”wherever it is...Not speaking the truth is the biggest problem every institutions are suffering with."
Later, the five-page letter to the CJI signed on March 21 that has also been copied to 22 other judges of the apex court, stated that the government has taken a selective approach while accepting recommendations of the Supreme Court collegiums for the appointment of judges to high courts. However, the letter did not mention any name.
Chelameswar said collegiums should be subjected to audit too.
On being asked if Justice Gogoi isn't appointed as the next Chief Justice of India, he said: “Hope it doesn't happen but if it does, it will prove everything that we said at the press conference was true.”
Chelameswar’s letter to CJI Misra came in response to a letter earlier this month by the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, highlighting that the law ministry was writing directly to him. This had stalled the elevation of a district and sessions judge, P Krishna Bhat, to the High Court despite a reiteration by the Supreme Court Collegium.
Bhat’s name was first recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium in August 2016. After the then Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court called the allegations made by the Principal Civil Judge against Bhat “incorrect and concocted”, the Supreme Court Collegium had reiterated his name to the Law Ministry in April 2017.
(With agency inputs)