Regrettable and confounding as it was, the press conference held by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court did little more than make it look like the Supreme Court was in distress. And we certainly don’t want the most powerful and dependable institution of the nation to look unstable and in turmoil. The press conference, therefore, appears to be more of a hasty misstep than a well thought out way to a solution of any kind to the issues raised by the learned judges in the press conference as well as through the letter addressed to the CJI, which was shared with the media the same day.
Justice Chelameswar meeting D. Raja and Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Mr. Nripendra Misra turning up at the residence of the Chief Justice of India after the press conference were two further developments that we could certainly do without. It should have been realized that the phrase “in personal capacity” has absolutely no meaning in the situation the two events took place. Apparently, the CJI did not agree to meet the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and he had to drive away from the gates of the residence of the CJI without meeting him. That was the only silver lining in the muddy cloud.
The Bar Council of India was well advised to hurriedly constitute a delegation to meet the learned judges of the Supreme Court to urge them to resolve the issue in-house, and reportedly the Chief Justice has assured the delegation that the situation will be resolved positively within the Supreme Court brethren without any outside intervention. That’s heartening to know although many — including me — would have much preferred if it had been internally resolved well before his four senior-most colleagues found it imperative to call the attention of the nation to the problems plaguing the administration of the Supreme Court. The press conference called by the learned judges certainly couldn’t be a part of any solution whatsoever, but that does not mean the problem did not exist or was/is not serious enough to warrant urgent redress. It’s not everyday that the four senior-most judges of the apex court feel the urgency to talk to the press in clear breach of The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life adopted by the Full Bench of the Supreme Court of India on May 7, 1997, Clause 9 of which states as under
9. A Judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves. He shall not give interview to the media.
However, the reservations regarding the mode of addressing the issue does not quite take away from the substance of it, which necessitates a positive, problem-solving approach on part of the Chief Justice of India and his brother judges without interference of any kind from any outside quarter. The delegation sent by the Bar Council of India did well to not even suggest as to how the learned judges should go about resolving the issues. They restricted themselves to urging that the matter be sorted out and put to rest within the institution itself. That’s the only advice that one can really offer the learned judges. There have been three missteps already — the press conference, the meeting with D. Raja and the failed attempt by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to meet the CJI. That’s already three too many, and there is absolutely no room for such ominous moves any further.
The way forward, therefore, is pretty simple: Let the learned judges of the Supreme Court sort things out among themselves. The rest of us must keep our faith in their wisdom. They are perfectly capable of handling their differences. Nothing more needs to be done, said or discussed.