Congress says SC judges' revolt is 'extremely disturbing'
New Delhi: The Congress on Friday described the comments made by four Supreme Court judges as "extremely disturbing" and appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court to find solutions to preserve the independence of the judiciary even as party President Rahul Gandhi demanded that its senior-most judges should supervise an SIT probe into the mysterious death of Special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.
The Congress issued a statement after Gandhi met senior party leaders, including P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal who are also leading lawyers, and discussed the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior-most judges -- Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur -- who were critical of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The Congress and Gandhi demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.
Gandhi, who made a brief statement to the media, said it was "a sensitive and important matter" and that "the points raised by the judges are extremely important".
"The points that have been raised by the four judges are extremely important. They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it needs to be looked into carefully.
"They have also made a point about Judge Loya's case. I think that is also something that needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be looked at from the highest levels of the Supreme Court."
He said the press conference by judges "never happened before".
"It's unprecedented. I think all citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court are looking at this issue."
Calling it an "unprecedented development", the Congress the observations made by the four judges and the issues raised by them in the press conference and in the letter to the Chief Justice were "extremely disturbing and have far reaching consequences for the values that we hold sacred: safeguarding democracy and preserving the independence of the judiciary".
It said the judges have specifically highlighted two issues. "The long silence of the government of India to the Memorandum of Procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court and the assignment of cases in the Supreme Court to what is described as 'selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment'.
"In answer to a question from the media, the judges referred to the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, which the family of Judge Loya believes was under suspicious circumstances."
The statement said the judges in their letter have also hinted at other instances which they will raise later.
"The press conference and the letter followed a meeting of the four judges with the Chief Justice of India this morning which, apparently, failed to resolve the issues and obliged the four judges to address a press conference.
"The Congress party is deeply perturbed by these developments. The country holds the judiciary in the highest esteem and millions of people knock on the doors of the courts seeking justice. The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left nearly 40 per cent of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery."
The statement earnestly appealed that the Full Court of the Supreme Court should take up the issues raised by the four judges and find solutions that are consistent with the traditions and conventions of the judiciary pointed out by them and that will preserve the independence of the judiciary.
"In the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, we believe that the matter must 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.
"In the matter of assignment of cases, the established conventions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases that have far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court."