Judge’s media briefing sends shock waves in legal fraternity

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar along with other judges addresses a press conference at Supreme Court lawns, New Delhi, Jan 12, 2018. PTI

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar along with other judges addresses a press conference at Supreme Court lawns, New Delhi, Jan 12, 2018.

Even as the government said the judiciary will sort the issue within itself and “it doesn’t need to interfere”, the legal fraternity termed the developments at Supreme Court “unprecedented”, with some experts even terming it “shocking”. Attorney General KK Venugopal holding a press conference “could have been avoided”.

“What has happened today could have been avoided. The judges will now have to act in statesmanship and ensure that the divisiveness is wholly neutralised and total harmony and mutual understanding will prevail in future,” he said.

“This is what all of us at the bar want and I am sure that the judges, including the CJI, will rise to the occasion,” he said, but declined to come out with details of his deliberations with the CJI and others.

“I had promised to the judges that I would not speak to the media,” Venugopal said.

Some legal luminaries also said the turn of events had raised a question mark about the credibility of the judicial system.

Senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi said the step was quite shocking and one had never thought that “things would come such far compelling the four senior-most judges to adopt this course of action.”

“I am sure they (four judges) have exhausted all other remedies. One could see pain on their faces while they were speaking. The whole matter is with respect to judicial propriety,” Tulsi said.

BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said when such judges come out to do a press conference, it is necessary to take them seriously rather than finding fault. He also said that Prime Minister should take an initiative and contact the Chief Justice and the four judges to resolve the whole situation through the process of consultation.

Former union minister and senior advocate Khurshid said there were some deep differences among the judges about how the apex court should function, terming it as a matter of anguish.

“I can only hope that conversation among the judges will not snap and will continue and that with accommodation and logic it will be settled. It has come too far,” Khurshid said.

While another former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said it was “a sad day for Indian democracy.”

However, Justice Sodhi questioned the move of the top judges approaching the media and asked how can they administer the Supreme Court through press conferences.

“I am so pained at the outcome of the things… It is appalling. How can you administer Supreme Court by press conference? Are you going to hold a referendum and ask people what is right and wrong,” Justice Sodhi said.

Justice Mudgal said the judges brought the issues to light which according to them was necessary to be brought to the public notice. He said they must have had compelling reasons to go public and “they are not publicity hungry judges and do not crave for unnecessary publicity”.

(With inputs from PTI)