Four of the senior most Supreme Court judges in their wisdom decided to let the people of India know the following:
- Indian democracy is under attack from within. To quote the judges, “Democracy is under threat.”
- Distinguished judges went on to expose the mechanism of “subversion of judiciary” through the office of the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The politically significant cases of grave national importance are being given to selected panel of judges or more specifically, not given to senior most judges.
- Such mechanism to subvert the justice system is being done at the behest of someone who has the powers to manipulate the CJI.
- The graver charge that has been levelled against the CJI is hidden in the sentence, “Don’t want wise men to say 20 years from now that we sold our souls….”.
Let’s dwell a bit on ‘we sold our souls’ statement because this sums up Friday’s press conference. What the four senior most judges effectively meant by this was that they had not sold their souls and have no intention to do so either. Hence their stunning press conference.
So, the question is; if they haven’t sold their souls, then who has. Did they indirectly imply that someone higher in the judiciary had indeed sold his soul? If indeed this allegation has an iota of truth, then one would wonder who was the buyer of that soul. In other words, at whose behest the most powerful man in the Indian judiciary had sold his soul? Who benefited from buying his soul or even souls in the top echelon of the Indian judiciary?
This will be clearer when you try and analyse another allegation made by Justices Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur. They went on to allege that politically significant cases of grave national importance were being given to selected panel of judges or more specifically, not given to senior most judges.
Some of the most significant cases that had considerable impact on the Indian democracy were the Sahara Birla bribery case, Medical Council of India scam and more recently the mysterious death of Judge BH Loya.
In Sahara-Birla diary case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being accused of having received in excess of Rs 25 crore as bribe from an industrialist during his time as Gujarat Chief Minister. The case was assigned to bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, even though he would not be heading a bench otherwise.
Days later, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra simply dismissed the case. This is how Janta Ka Reporter had reported the case,
“The high-voltage hearing was conducted by a new bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy which said “courts have to be on guard” while dealing with matters demanding probe against high functionaries as the case in hand was devoid of any “cogent” material or “independent evidence corroborating materials” to order investigation.”
The hearing of MCI scam had seen an unprecedented stormy scene as noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan stormed out of the Supreme Court after a heated exchange of words with CJI Dipak Misra.
Days later, another bench where Justice Arun Mishra was part of dismissed a plea by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms seeking Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the MCI scam case and imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakhs on it.
As for the Judge Loya case, it came up for hearing on Friday in the Supreme Court, but the hearing was adjourned for four weeks. A report by Times of India said that the final trigger for the stunning press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court came at 10.15am on Friday – just 15 minutes before the commencement of proceedings – when Chief Justice Dipak Misra bluntly turned down their last-minute request to shift a politically sensitive case from a particular bench.
This case too was assigned to Justice Arun Mishra, who is the 10th in the pecking order of the 25 Supreme Court judges.
If the Sahara Birla diary case had Prime Minister Modi as a main accused, the Judge Loya’s mysterious death case has a potential to cause plenty of grief for the BJP President Amit Shah, who was the main accused in the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh. Judge Loya was hearing the case at the time of his mysterious death.
This raises some serious questions on the integrity of the office of the CJI. What the top four judges hinted on Friday was whether the CJI was misusing his position as the master of roster to assign cases to favourable judges to allegedly please the current BJP dispensation at the Centre. Now this is a scary proposition. If the powerful CJI can be manipulated, then it is also indicative that some more judges may have been under the influence of the same powers.
Not internal matter of judiciary
The press conference wasn’t simply referring to the INTERNAL MATTERS OF JUDICIARY but external influence by the dark forces that have almost seized the highest office of the Indian judiciary. There have been talks of lower judiciary in India being severely compromised. But this is the first time we have heard from the horse’s mouth that even the top most institution of the Indian judiciary may be corrupt.
The institutions that have allegedly crumbled and notoriously surrendered its autonomy to certain political ideology includes CAG, CBI, RBI and the Election Commission of India. That the Supreme Court senior judges have blown the lid off is praiseworthy and it’s for the nation to decide whether they need democracy and cherish its freedom or they would rather look to newer methods of governance even by losing all their democratic privileges.
The Centre’s Narendra Modi government came out with statements like “Internal Matters of Judiciary… Let’s not politicise the Supreme Court..”
However, if the Honorable Judges thought that the nation needed to know the interference by political forces, then it’s not the internal matter of the judiciary. Political parties must come out in full force to save the democracy and the rule of law. There is a clear attempt by the government to isolate the SC judges, who’ve acted as whistle blowers. The attempts will be to weaken and batter them by motivated media and investigating agencies.
It is imperative that all political parties, civil liberty organisations and people of the nation at large must hit the streets to demand that the independence of the judiciary be maintained.
The nation must know who manipulates the CJI and what hidden power does the Modi government exercise over the CJI? We also need to know who all are and have been compromised within the rank and file of the Indian judiciary?
(The author is a former Indian Air Force officer. Views expressed here are the author’s own)