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Justice J Chelameswar disapproves of Centre's decision not to elevate KM Joseph to Supreme Court

New Delhi: Justice J Chelameswar, who demitted office on Friday, has disapproved of the Centre's decision not to elevate Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court, terming the action as "not sustainable".

Justice Chelameswar, who had held an unprecedented presser along with three other senior Supreme Court judges to highlight the alleged discrimination in allocation of cases to benches, said that the credibility of the highest judiciary was "occasionally" in danger.

"I wish and pray that he (Joseph) becomes a judge of the Supreme Court. I have not stalled it. I have been repeatedly asking for it. The collegium has unanimously reiterated its recommendation," Chelameswar told news outlets.

File image of Justice J Chelameswar. PTI

File image of Justice J Chelameswar. PTI

He termed Justice Joseph as an "outstanding judge" and said he should have been elevated to the apex court and the collegium must reiterate his name to the Centre.

He told NDTV that Justice Joseph did not belong to his religion, community or language, but yet, he fought for him.

He said "the government should not process the recommendations (for elevation of judges) for months together. That will lead to a situation where appointments are not made, vacancies are not filled. All this will result in more and more pendency."

On the issue of his virtual revolt against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, the judge said he did not regret holding the press conference on 12 January.

Justice Chelameswar rued the fact that though many former judges had hailed him for his decision to highlight the deficiencies in the functioning of the apex court, right-thinking persons were not coming forward.

"It is the silence of the right-thinking people that causes more damage...," he told news portal The Print.

He said that one of the former judges had wished him "strength" but had expressed inability to speak out.

Replying to questions by The Print, Chelameswar said he did not think the judiciary was in danger and recalled his time as a law student during the Emergency to drive home the point.

“At the height of the Emergency, I was in law college. Like any other young man of the day, I was greatly perturbed, particularly being a law student, I was worried over its implications."

"I went to my professor Gopal Krishna Shastry, who taught me constitutional law, and expressed my distress to him. He smiled at me and told me, young man, I understand these are difficult days. But there have been phases in history you have not seen like Hitler. ... Nothing is permanent. Surely there are some problems, there are some distressing features. But these are not permanent features. Things will change,” he said.

Referring to the key bone of contention between him and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, he acknowledged that the CJI was the master of roster but there was a problem with regard to allocation of cases which needed to be sorted out.

"I don't think any problem can be resolved overnight. The problem still remains and then an attempt is made," he told India Today.

Justice Chelameswar said he was "surprised" when his decision to set up a five-judge bench comprising senior-most judges to hear a case against the CJI was overturned.

He said the matter (Prasad Education Trust case) was a "serious" one as a former high court judge was arrested in this case leading to registration of an FIR by the CBI.

He trashed the allegation with regard to the visit of CPI leader D Raja to his official residence on the day of the 12 January press conference there.

Justice Chelameswar said that the leader saw a lot of media outside his residence and came to inquire apprehending some untoward incident and there was no other reason attached to his visit.

"I am a retired judge. I had a press conference with my colleagues and my tenure was a matter of few more weeks. It's immaterial who met me that day. The more important question would be who is meeting those who are in power and where are these meetings taking place," he told the news channel.

The judge also questioned the setting up of a seven-judge bench and later a five-judge bench to overturn the decision to set up a constitution bench to hear a case relating to allegations against the CJI.


Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 21:30 PM

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