"The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country", Justice Jasti Chelameswar told a news conference on the lawns of his home in the Indian capital. Asked specifically if they were upset over reference of the matter seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Special CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, justice Gogoi said: "Yes". "We the people of India have a right to know what is happening inside the collegium", said senior lawyer Indira Jaising.
Reuters could not immediately reach the chief justice for comment.
The CPI (M) meanwhile said the integrity and independence of the judiciary, is a vital pillar of the Constitution and non-negotiable. Six months on, Loya died and his death was reported as a heart attack. 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.
There are now 25 judges on India's Supreme Court, with six vacancies. Bhushan further said that the CJI was selective in "assigning politically sensitive cases". The judges" note to the CJI that was circulated talks chiefly about the importance of following convention and procedure while allocating cases to respective judicial benches and reminds the CJI that he is only "first among equals-nothing more nothing less.' At the same time Friday's events leave the media to do most of the inferring. "I think all four judges should be impeached".
One case cited by the four justices on Friday was a request for an independent investigation into the death of judge BH Loya, who was overseeing a case involving murder allegations against Amit Shah, a leading figure in the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).
Describing the press conference as an extraordinary event in the history of the apex court, he said that the four judges were compelled to act in this way because Chief Justice Mishra could not be persuaded to mend the ways of the court.
In a virtual revolt against the CJI, the judges said they had approached Justice Misra with a complaint letter but failed to convince him. The judges have expressed displeasure over delays in finalising the MoP and observed that the government's "silence" on the matter meant that a draft sent to it in March 2017 had been accepted.
"It is very unfortunate", said former CJI K G Balakrishnan, while Congress leader Ashwani Kumar, who is also a senior advocate, observed, "It is a sad day for the judicial system".
The four judges now termed as "rebel judges" observed that things are not in order in the highest judiciary and in the administration of the Supreme Court such as allocation of cases to suppliant judges without due consultation or consensus with fellow judges merely because the CJI is the master of the roster. The judges said that the situation in the top court was "not in order" and many "less than desirable" things have taken place.
█ █ The judiciary is the sanctuary of the common man.