Four judges have shown CJI in poor light: RS Sodhi

One of the four senior-most judges, who held an unprecedented press conference, had said that the matter involving Judge Loya's death was one of the issues underpinning their differences with Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The CPI (M) meanwhile said the integrity and independence of the judiciary, is a vital pillar of the Constitution and non-negotiable. The shared opinion is that the learned judges should come together and iron out the issues that drove a wedge between them so that people didn't lose faith in the judicial system, the last sentinel of democracy and justice.

The four judges - justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B Lokur besides Justice Chelameswar - did not refer to any particular matter the chief justice had decided in assigning benches.

# Prime Minister Narendra Modi has summoned Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Meanwhile, in a letter released subsequently, the judges accused that many important cases are being assigned selectively and that certain cases are allocated by the CJI to benches of preference.

Justice Chelameswar told the media that they were "convinced that unless this institution is protected and maintains its requirements, democracy will not survive in the country or any country". The two justices issued a notice for the delay in finalising the MoP in larger public interest and rejected Luthra's challenge seeking cancellation of the appointment of judges without the MoP.

Special CBI judge Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case, had allegedly died under mysterious circumstances in 2014.

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He was tried and convicted in 2005 on the manslaughter charges after the state reopened the murder investigations. He was a Klansman who led a group of 15 men in the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Shwerner.

Besides, the CJI considered himself only "first among equals" and his role was that of "master of roster" in allocation of duties and cases, which, however, could not be a matter of adjudication by other judges.

In a separate case in May, a Supreme Court bench handed a sitting high court judge in West Bengal a six-month jail term for improper conduct after he alleged numerous senior judges were corrupt.

When media repeatedly asked the same question, Justice Gogoi said, "Yes".

Led by judge Jasti Chelameswar, they delivered an unprecedented message to the journalists gathered in Delhi: that the conduct of India's highest court was "not in order" and that "unless this institution is preserved, democracy can't be protected in this country". Rahul said the issue was serious and points levelled by the judges were disturbing.

Some Supreme Court lawyers praised the justices' action. We met CJI this morning, with specific request but we could not convince him.

Alok Kumar, a senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said chief justices had earned the rancour of their colleagues in the past but Friday's events were "beyond the pale".

The institution wields enormous influence in the South Asian nation and has in the past revoked laws passed by the parliament that it regarded as infringing upon citizens' rights.

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