ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Restoring Order in the Courts

Crises in the Judiciary

The press conference organised by four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court was a result of a long period of dissatisfaction over the way the institution was functioning. The problems are systemic and will require more than a short-term fix. The Supreme Court and the judiciary’s credibility have taken a battering over the last decade for many reasons, and the press conference is an acknowledgement to some extent of the rot within. What happens next is not very clear, but the status quo cannot continue.

The importance of the epoch-making press conference organised by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court of India on 12 January 2018 cannot be overstated. They have, bypassing the demands of convention and tradition, come forth into the public space and aired their grievances against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, specifically the way in which he has exercised his powers to allocate benches to hear certain cases. Most extraordinarily, they have claimed that this, if not checked or rectified, could put democracy itself in danger.

This press conference presents, in many ways, a breaking point for the four senior-most judges of unquestionable integrity, for the institution of the judiciary, and for India’s constitutional system of governance. It is a reaction of not just the four individuals in question; this has nothing to do with any personal grievance they may have. In choosing to come forth and put their reputations and careers on the line by taking their grievance to the public, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph have performed stellar service to the nation. In understanding why this is so important, it is necessary to remember how things got to this point and what happens next. Though there were, no doubt, proximate causes that explain why the judges came forth when they did, a brief overview of what has happened in the Supreme Court in the recent past would show that this was a long time in the making.

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Updated On : 22nd Jan, 2018

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