SC judges and the ghost of Emergency: The other shameful chapter

The ‘ADM, Jabalpur vs Shivakant Shukla’ judgement, better known as the Habeas Corpus case, delivered by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court at the height of the Indira Gandhi government imposed Emergency, in 1976, is considered one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the apex court.
It would seem from the statements of the four Supreme Court judges, who raised the banner of revolt on Friday afternoon against the manner in which Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra is assigning cases, at least they do not want posterity to remember them in the same breath as four of the five judges on the bench who on April 28, 1976, given the ‘Additional District Magistrate versus Shivakant Shukla’.
In that case, a division bench of Chief Justice AN Ray, and Justices MH Beg, YV Chandrachud, PN Bhagwati and HR Khanna had set aside nine High Court judgements, including ‘ADM Jabalpur versus Shivakant Shukla’, that had ruled in favour of enforcement of fundamental rights during the Emergency. Only Justice Khanna had dissented.
Their judgement had upheld the constitutionality of the draconian ‘Maintenance of Internal Security Act’, or MISA, under which thousands of political activists had been arrested across India during the Emergency. It had declared that the right to habeas corpus also does not stand during the Emergency.

Justice Khanna was the seniormost judge after Chief Justice Ray, but was superseded by the Indira Gandhi government. In 1999, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had conferred on him the Padma Vibhushan.
On Friday afternoon, Justice J Chelameshwar said at the press conference: “We don’t want wise men saying 20 years from now that Justices Chelameswar, (Ranjan) Gogoi, (Madan Bhimrao) Lokur and Kurian Joseph sold their souls.” He also suggested if things continued the way they have democracy in India would be in peril.
Clearly, the ghost of ‘ADM Jabalpur vs Shivakant Shukla case’ continues to haunt at least some of the current Supreme Court judges, just as Justice Hans Raj Khanna continues to inspire them. Incidentally, Justice Gogoi is the next in line to be the Chief Justice of India.

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SC judges and the ghost of Emergency: The other shameful chapter

It’s a Black Day for our judiciary: Ujjwal Nikam on SC judges’ press meet

Four sitting Supreme Court judges, in an unprecedented move, called a press conference and talked about the apex court’s house not being in order. One of the judges said, “democracy will not survive”. Justice Chelameshwar said the call to the nation was done amid ”extraordinary” circumstances.
Following the conference, Judges J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph released a seven-page letter that they wrote to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
ALSO READ: Four SC judges come out against CJI, says protect SC to preserve democracy
Here’s how this action was perceived by the legal community:
Prashant Bhushan, Senior SC Lawyer: I express my gratitude to the SC judges. CJI Dipak Misra has ‘blatantly’ misused his power as ‘master of roster’ to achieve particular outcomes in cases. The Chief Justice must resign if he has any sense of responsibility.
KTS Tulsi, Senior SC Advocate: It’s quite shocking. There must have been compelling reasons for the senior-most judges to have adopted this course of action. One could see the pain on their faces while they were speaking.
Salman Khurshid, Congress Leader &Senior Lawyer: This matter will ultimately be decided by the court. The judges will have to sort out the issues among themselves. Senior lawyers will meet at 5 pm at Kapil Sibal’s residence to formulate the course of action going forward.
Subramanian Swamy, Senior lawyer & BJP leader: We can’t criticize them, they are men of great integrity & have sacrificed a lot of their legal career, where they could’ve made money as senior counsels. We must respect them. PM must ensure that the 4 judges & CJI, in fact, whole SC come to one opinion & proceed further.
ALSO READ: Things not in order: Full text of the letter by four SC judges to CJI
Indira Jaising, Senior SC lawyer: I agree with the purpose of the conference. The justices who came out aren’t anti-Chief Justice. People of India have the right to know what’s going on in the collegium. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hitesh Jain, BJP Member, Lawyer: It’s a sordid state of affairs. NJAC would have ensured transparency, and today’s events might not have happened.
Gopal Narayanan, Senior Lawyer: “The question of the primacy of CJI exists,” when asked if the problem was with the constitution of a particular bench.
Ujjwal Nikam, Senior Lawyer: I don’t want to advise SC judges.

However, there are other means to sort out any problem. This speaks badly of our democracy and judiciary. This is a black day for Judiciary. Today’s press conference would cause a bad precedent. From now on every common man could look at all judicial order with suspicion. Every judgment will be questioned.
Retd. Justice Mukul Mudgal: I don’t think it’s a challenge to the CJI’s authority. The four judges should have had compelling reasons. They have a great reputation.
Retd. Justice R Sodhi: Issues don’t matter. It is their complaint on the administrative matter. They are only four, there are 23 others. Four of them get together and show the Chief Justice in a poor light. It is immature & childish behavior. I think all 4 judges should be impeached, they have no business to sit there and deliver verdicts anymore. This trade unionism is wrong. Democracy in danger is not for them to say, we have parliament, courts, police functioning

 

It’s a Black Day for our judiciary: Ujjwal Nikam on SC judges’ press meet

Things not in order: Full text of the letter by four SC judges to CJI

In an unprecedented event, four senior sitting judges of the Supreme Court on Friday held a press conference to complain that the administration of the country’s top court was not in order. At a hurriedly called press conference at the residence of Justice J Chelameswar, the No 2 in the apex court hierarchy, they said it was with “no pleasure” that they had been compelled to make public what they were upset with.
The four judges wrote a letter to the Chief Justice, pointing out their concerns. Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Chief Justice,
It is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you so as to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this Court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system and the independence of the High Courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the Office of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India .
From the date of establishment of the three chartered High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, certain traditions and conventions in the judicial administration have been well established. The traditions were embraced by this Court which came into existence almost a century after the above mentioned chartered High Courts. These traditions have their roots in the anglo-saxon jurisprudence and practice.
One of the well-settled principles is that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster with a privilege to determine the roster , necessity in multi-numbered courts for an orderly transaction of business and appropriate arrangements with respect to matters with which member/bench of this Court (as the case may be) is required to deal with which case or class of cases is to be made . The convention of recognizing the privilege of the Chief Justice to form the roster and assign cases to different members/benches of the Court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transaction of business of the Court but not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues. It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the Chief Justice is only the first amongst the equals nothing more or nothing less. In the matter of the determination of the roster there are well—settled and time honoured conventions guiding the Chief Justice, be the conventions dealing with the strength of the bench which is required to deal with a particular case or the composition thereof.
A necessary corollary to the above-mentioned principle is the members of any multi numbered judicial body including this Court would not arrogate to themselves the authority to deal with and pronounce upon matters which ought to be heard by appropriate benches, both composition wise and strength wise with due regard to the roster fixed.
Any departure from the above two rules would not only lead to unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution. Not to talk about the chaos that would result from such departure.
We are sorry to say that off late the twin rules mentioned above have not been strictly adhered to. There have been instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of this Court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be quarded against at all costs.
We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent.
In the above context, we deem it proper to address you presently with regard to the Order dated 27th October, 2017 in R. P. Luthra vs. Union of India to the effect that there should be no further delay in finalizing the Memorandum of Procedure in the larger public interest.

When the Memorandum of Procedure was the subject matter of a decision of a Constitution Bench of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates —on—Record Association and Anr. vs. Union of India [ (2016) 5 SCC 1] it is difficult to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter.
The above apart, subsequent to the decision of the Constitution Bench, detailed discussions were held by the Collegium of five judges (including yourself) and the Memorandum of Procedure was finalized and sent by the then Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India to the Government of India in March 2017. The Government of India has not responded to the communication and in view of this silence, must be taken that the Memorandum of Procedure as finalized by the Collegium has been accepted by the Government of India on the basis of the order of this Court in Supreme Court Association (Supra). There was, therefore, no occasion for the Bench to make any observation with regard to the finalization of the Memorandum of Procedure or that that issue cannot linger on for an indefinite period.
On 4th July 2017 , a Bench of seven Judges of this Court decided In Re Hon’ble Shri Justice C S Karnan [ (2017) 1 SCC 1]. In that decision (referred to in R. P . Luthra), two of us observed that there is a need to revisit the process of appointment of judges and to set up a mechanism for corrective measures other than impeachment. No observation was made by any of the seven learned judges with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure.
Any issue with regard to the Memorandum of Procedure should be discussed in the Chief Justices Conference and by the Full Court. Such a matter of grave importance, if at all required to be taken on the judicial side, should be dealt with by none other than a Constitution Bench.
The above development must be viewed with serious concern. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is duty bound to rectify the situation and take appropriate remedial measures after a full discussion with the other members of the Collegium and at a later stage, if required, with other Hon’ble Judges of this Court.
Once the issue arising from the order dated 27 th October , 2017 in R. P. Luthra vs. Union of India mentioned above, is adequately addressed by you and if it becomes so necessary we will apprise you specifically of the other judicial orders passed by this Court which would require to be similarly dealt with.
Kind regards,
J Chelameshwar
Ranjan Gogoi
Madan B Lokur
Kurian Joseph

Things not in order: Full text of the letter by four SC judges to CJI

Four SC judges come out against CJI, say protect SC to preserve democracy

In an unprecedented event, four senior sitting judges of the Supreme Court on Friday met the media to complain that the administration of the country’s top court was not in order. At a hurriedly called press conference at the residence of Justice J Chelameswar, the No 2 in the apex court hierarchy, they said it was with “no pleasure” that they had been compelled to make public what they were upset with.
ALSO READ: Pain in judges’ eyes could be seen during the media meet: KTS Tulsi
“Hallmark of democracy is independent and fair judiciary. We tried to convince Chief Justice that things are not in order. Unfortunately, our attempts failed,” said Justice Chelameswar. “It is s with no pleasure that we have been compelled to do this, administration of SC is not in order,” he said. “A couple of months back, four of us gave a signed letter to the CJI and we wanted a particular thing to be done in a particular manner. It was done in such a way that it raised further doubt about the integrity of the institution,” he added.

Key takeaways:
Administration of the apex court is ‘sometimes not in order’ and many ‘less than desirable things’ have taken place
Save Supreme Court if you want democracy in the country to survive
Corrosion and compromise taking place within the institution of the judiciary and especially within the portals of the Supreme Court
Our efforts have failed in convincing the CJI (Chief Justice of India) to take steps to protect the institution
The hallmark of a good democracy is an independent and impartial judge
Even this morning, the four of us went and met the Chief Justice of India and tried to persuade him to accept that certain things are not in order and that he should take remedial measures. Unfortunately, we couldn’t convince him
The other three judges addressing the media today were Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurien Joseph. The judges said that they will soon release a copy of the letter highlighting their demands. “We are not breaking lines.
This is our duty to the nation,” Gogoi said. The judges added that it will be business as usual for them on Monday and will go the court as usual.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for the emergency meet after Supreme Court judges spoke against the Chief Justice of India.
Judges J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph also released a seven-page letter that they wrote to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
In the letter to the Chief Justice of India, the judges wrote, “We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departures have already damaged the image of this intuition to some extent.”
They further added in the letter that, “It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the Chief Justice is only first amongst the equals- nothing more or nothing less”.
Senior SC advocate KTS Tulsi said he was shocked to know about the development. “It’s quite shocking. There must have been compelling reasons for the senior-most judges to have adopted this course of action. One could see pain on their faces while they were speaking,” he said.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy defended the judges’ move, saying “We can’t criticise them, they are men of great integrity and have sacrificed a lot of their legal career, where they could’ve made money as senior counsels. We must respect them. PM Modi must ensure that the four judges and the Chief Justice, in fact whole SC come to one opinion and proceed further.”
Meanwhile, the CJI is set to meet the Attorney General to decide his next move.

Four SC judges come out against CJI, say protect SC to preserve democracy

Ahead of Budget 2018, PM and economists brainstorm on ways to revive growth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday brainstormed with economists and experts on the state of the economy as the government looks to revive growth which is set to hit a 4-year low.

The meeting with over 40 economists and sectoral experts came weeks before the NDA-government presents its fifth and final full budget that would look to address pain points in the economy and boosting growth to 7-8 per cent.

The interactive session, organised by NITI Aayog, was on the theme, ‘Economic Policy The Road Ahead’.

It had participants express their views on macro-economy, agriculture, rural development, employment, health, education, manufacturing, exports, urban development, infrastructure and connectivity.

“In his intervention, the Prime Minister thanked various participants for their suggestions and observations, on various aspects of the economy. In particular, he appreciated the quality of suggestions that had come from various subject experts,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

It however did not provide details about the deliberations.

The meeting was attended by several Union Ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar, and senior officers from the Centre and NITI Aayog were also present.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has projected India’s growth to slow to 4-year low of 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal in the backdrop of introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

Ahead of Budget 2018, PM and economists brainstorm on ways to revive growth

Berkshire promotes potential Buffett successors Gregory Abel, Ajit Jain

Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Wednesday promoted two of its top executives, Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain, cementing their widely viewed status as potential successors to Warren Buffett as the conglomerate’s chief executive.

Abel, 55, was named Berkshire’s vice chairman for non-insurance business operations, and Jain, 66, was named vice chairman for insurance operations.

 

Both were also added to Berkshire’s board, increasing the number of directors to 14 from 12.

Abel is the chairman of the company’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit, which he joined in 1992, while Jain is executive vice president at National Indemnity Co and oversees Berkshire’s reinsurance operations.

He joined Berkshire in 1986.

Investors and analysts have long considered Abel and Jain the top candidates to eventually succeed Buffett, 87, as chief executive.

For now, Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 94, will remain responsible for Berkshire’s major capital allocation and investment decisions, including acquisitions.

Buffett, the world’s third-richest person according to Forbes magazine, has run Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire since 1965, with Munger at his side for more than four decades.

Berkshire has more than 90 operating units including the BNSF railroad, Geico auto insurance, Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom underwear, See’s Candies and a variety of industrial and chemical operations.

While Berkshire remains best known for insurance and reinsurance, that sector now generates only about one-fourth of operating results as the company has diversified.

Buffett has long said Berkshire’s board, whose members include Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, will be ready to install a new chief executive should he step down, die or become incapacitated.

Speculation that Abel and Jain were the top candidates grew after Munger singled them out as “world-leading” performers in a 2015 letter to Berkshire shareholders.

Buffett’s investment deputies, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, are in position to eventually succeed Buffett as Berkshire’s chief investment officer, while Buffett’s son Howard is expected to become Berkshire’s non-executive chairman.

 

Berkshire promotes potential Buffett successors Gregory Abel, Ajit Jain

SC to send 186 anti-Sikh riot cases from 1984 to fresh three-member SIT

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would constitute a fresh three-member SIT, to be headed by a former high court judge, to monitor probe into 186 anti-Sikh riot cases, that followed the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, in which investigations were closed.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked the Centre to suggest names today itself for its consideration and appointment in the proposed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the proposed committee will be headed by a former high court judge and consist of one retired and one serving police officer.
It also made it clear that the retired police officer shall not be below the rank of DIG at the time of his superannuation.
The apex court said the supervisory body, appointed by it has found that out of 241 cases, 186 cases were closed without investigation.
The apex court today perused the report of the supervisory body which was submitted before it in a leather box with number lock system.

SC to send 186 anti-Sikh riot cases from 1984 to fresh three-member SIT