Nothing seemed amiss when the Supreme Court started work at 10.30 a.M. As always. Judges strode out of their chambers, lawyers fussed through the papers, litigants hung around and reporters took their assigned seats in court rooms.
But a brewing judicial firestorm, invisible to all except four judges, erupted an hour later, taking the nation by surprise and plunging the judiciary into an unprecedented crisis whose reverberations will continue to ring for years to come.Around 11.30 a.M., Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Kurian Joseph rose for the day in their respective court rooms, numbered 2 and 5.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in the meantime, rushed through and disposed of most of the day's listed business, while Justice Madan B Lokur heard matters in his chamber. All four of them left the Supreme Court premises within minutes and gathered at the 4, Tughlaq Road Bungalow in Lutyen's Delhi, the official residence of Justice Chelameswar to hold an unscheduled press conference ? no Supreme Court judge had ever addressed the media publicly. The news of their sudden exit spread like wildfire in the corridors of the apex court, sending a shockwave among the journalists, lawyers and litigants and leading the scribes to scramble to the venue of the presser, about four kilometres away.
It was an unprecedented life-time event, being the first such in the history of independent India. At the venue, media stalwarts and lawyers jostled for space alongside journalists, as Justice Chelameswar's residence buzzed with activity and its gates, which are often closed, were open for all. Veteran journalists like Shekhar Gupta and senior advocate Indira Jaising, who had served as Additional Solicitor General during the UPA regime, were among those who reached well before the commencement of the presser.
Moments before the presser began, lensmen started shouting at each other to get better view of the judges coming to the lawns to address the media. As the chairs meant for scribes got occupied, many sat on the ground of the lush green lawn while seniors like Gupta and Jaising were also seen standing. Scribes were heard murmuring how the senior journalist and the lawyer were present at the press conference. The judges, after addressing the media for about 7-8 minutes, refused to answer some pointed questions like 'Do they want the CJI to be impeached'. To this, they said they were not doing politics and asked the journalists not to put words in their mouth.
When Jaising tried to ask some questions to the judges, some journalists objected saying that the conference was meant for the press only. However, Jaising said she was there as a citizen of the country. Throughout the press conference, Gupta was seen standing behind the four judges and later, he obliged TV channels with his sound bytes. CPI leader D Raja later visited the residence of Justice Chelameswar and some sources said that a couple of other apex court judges too went to 4, Tughlaq Road.
Soon thereafter, the word spread that Attorney General K K Venugopal was holding a meeting with the CJI and some scribes tried to know the outcome from the top law officer. A tweet was also circulated that the CJI and the AG would hold a press conference, which did not happen. The journalists who had rushed back to the apex court to cover this meeting had a futile, long wait till the end of the court time of 4 p.M. When contacted, legal luminaries like former CJI K G Balakrishnan, K T S Tulsi, former judge R S Sodhi and others described the event as surprising and unprecedented.
Article Type: Report Sections: India Agencies: PTI Cities: New Delhi Tags: SC judges against CJI Supreme Court Dipak Misra J Chelameswar Kurian Joseph Madan B Lokur Ranjan Gogoi Sat, 13 Jan 2018-12:05am Date updated: Saturday, 13 January 2018 - 12:21am Article Images:
Bir Bahadur Yadav
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