Former CJI T S Thakur criticises four senior most judges for Jan 12 presser
New Delhi, May 19: Former Chief Justice of India T S Thakur today spoke out against the controversial January 12 press conference held by four senior judges of the Supreme Court, saying they “need not look for outside help for resolving their institutional problems”.
Justice Thakur was referring to the presser by four senior judges — justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — who had virtually raised revolt against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra by levelling litany of allegations against him.
They had alleged that the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things have taken place, which has put the “democracy at stake”.
The former CJI, who dubbed the presser as a “disturbing” event, said that the issues brought into public domain in the press conference gave the media and the politicians an opportunity to discuss matter which “ought to have been addressed and solved within the confines of the Supreme Court”.
“Breaking away from tradition, four senior judges of the Supreme Court brought into public domain certain issues which had caught the limelight and had given the media and politicians an opportunity to talk about and discuss matters which can and indeed ought to have been addressed and solved within the confines of the Supreme Court.
“No political party or media house or politician can be accused of indiscretion when judges of the Supreme Court make a public statement that democracy in the country is in danger,” he said.
Justice Thakur said that when judges want the nation to decide issues, which they can and ought to decide themselves, anyone witnessing it would feel disturbed by the development that the highest judiciary was unable to decide issues concerning its working and was taking it to the public at large.
“When a strong and disturbing statement, like selling of souls by the judges appears in the media; when judges want the nation to decide issues, which they can and ought to decide themselves, anyone who is connected to the institution and even dispassionate observers would feel disturbed by the development where judges are unable to decide issues concerning working of their institution and seek to take the same to the public at large,” he said.
Justice Thakur was speaking on the topic of ‘Independence of Judiciary’ at an event organised by an NGO, Global Jurists, founded by former Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir who also expressed similar views about the January 12 presser.
Thakur said that instead of appealing to the nation for help, the four judges ought to have used the “tremendous reservoir of talent” available in the apex court for finding solutions to the problems.
“An appeal to the nation is not what would have helped the judges. I firmly believe that judges need not look for outside help for resolving their institutional problems. There is a tremendous reservoir of talent in the Supreme Court which can and ought to be used for finding solutions. Judges have to look within and not without for guidance,” he said.
He further said,”The nation trusts them for their wisdom and would be happy if they use it for solving not only problems of others, but their own problems also. Judges ought to rise above their individual prejudices, if any, and think in the interests of the institution and future of the country.”
The remarks by Thakur came a day after Justice Chelameswar shared the dias with CJI Misra on the last working day of the apex court.
The Supreme Court has gone on a summer break and Justice Chelameswar will retire during the vacation on June 22. It is a custom in the apex court that a judge on the last working day before retirement shares the dias with the CJI.
The January 12 presser was held at the official residence of Justice Chelameswar.
Justice Gambhir, who also spoke at the event, referred to the stalled elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court and said that instead of the “internal bickerings”, the collegium ought to have sent the file back to the government immediately.
He said that the independence of the judiciary was threatened not only by the political executive, but also from within itself.
He also termed as shocking the row between the CJI on one side and the four senior most judges on the other.
Apart from him, the other speakers included former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain, former veteran scribe H K Dua and former Law Commission Member Mool Chand Sharma who said that the recent attempt to impeach CJI Misra by the Congress was a “political tool to threaten and scare” the judiciary as the party did not have the numbers to support their move.