Justice Jasti Chelameswar, who recently retired as the Supreme Court judge, has lashed out at the Bar Council of India, headed by Manan Kumar Mishra, also a BJP functionary, for its press release condemning him.
Justice Chelameswar told Deccan Herald, “I really don’t have time to react to every person. They (BCI) even alleged that I had alleged “bench fixing” in an interview with a television news channel. It was the person interviewing me who said that. I only replied to that. I told him that we really don’t have to go to the extent of calling it that, but yes, the situation is certainly of concern. But if the BCI attributes to me words I didn’t say, there is nothing I can do about that. The BCI, in its press release, could not even spell my name properly. Some of them will one day become judges.”
Justice Chelameswar also wondered if the BCI did not have the backing of the entire lefal fraternity in India. “How can they say that the whole legal community is behind the BCI? I know many people who say that what I have done is right. Even Mahatma Gandhi was never backed by all the people of the country. Many might have respected him personally, but they opposed him politically. I don’t see any logic in those words. I leave it to their (BCI’s) wisdom,” he was quoted by Deccan Herald.
The BCI chief had particularly objected to the alleged use of the term ‘bench fixing’ by Justice Chelameswar during an interview with India Today’s consulting editor, Rajdeep Sardesai, reported Live Law website. However, the truth was that it was Sardesai, who had used the term ‘bench fixing’ while seeking to elicit the former Supreme Court judge’s reaction. I fact, Justice Chelameswar had refused to refused to use the term in his replies.
Justice Chelameswar was responding to a question on the press statement issued by BCI’s Mishra, who had reportedly criticised him, saying that the whole legal fraternity felt that you had caused “damage” to the institution of the Supreme Court. In his statement, Mishra had expressed his displeasure over Justice Chelameswar’s ‘controversial’ and ‘irrelevant’ statements stating that it was not expected from a person who had held a high post and went against its dignity.
A statement by Mishra, also signed by four other BCI office-bearers, had said, “The manner in which Justice Chelameswar went to the media and gave controversial and irrelevant statements immediately upon retirement, was not expected of a person holding such a high post and was in fact against the dignity of the post he had held.
“Such statements and comments are liable to be deprecated. Such statements cannot be tolerated, accepted or digested by the advocates including the rest of the countrymen.”
Justice Chelameswar, along with three other judges, had held an extraordinary press conference in January this year to protest against the high-handedness of Chief Justice Dipak Misra , who they accused of assigning cases with serious political ramifications to favourable judges.