Justice Jasti Chelameswar wrote the six-page letter to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on March 21
Supreme Court judge Justice Jasti Chelameswar has written to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra seeking a full-court discussion on alleged government interference in the appointment of judges to high courts, news agency Press Trust of India reported.
In a letter he sent to the CJI on Thursday, Justice Chelameswar sought to draw attention to what he called "bonhomie between judiciary and the government".
"Let us also not forget that bonhomie between Judiciary and the Government in any State sounds death knell to Democracy. We both are mutual watchdogs, so to say, not mutual admirers, and much less constitutional cohorts," Justice Chelameswar said in the letter.
Justice Chelameswar was one of the four senior Supreme Court judges who went public with concerns over allocation of cases by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in January. At the unprecedented press conference held by sitting judges of the top court, the judges had blown the lid off a growing rift with the CJI. The other three judges were Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph.
"I am of the opinion that this matter is now ripe for the consideration of the Full Court on the judicial side, if this institution really is to be any more relevant in the scheme of the Constitution," Justice Chelameswar said in the letter written on March 21.
The letter was written on March 21; its copies were sent to 22 other Supreme Court judges who have questioned a probe started by the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari against District and Sessions Judge Krishna Bhat at the instance of the Union Law Ministry, despite his name being recommended for elevation twice by the collegium, news agency ANI reported.
Raising the issue of judicial independence, Justice Chelameswar wrote in the letter: "For some time, our unhappy experience has been that the government's accepting our recommendations is an exception and sitting on them is the norm. 'Inconvenient' but able judges or judges to be are being bypassed through this route."
Efforts to get a response on the letter from the office of Chief Justice Dipak Misra did not succeed. Other top legal professionals declined to comment.
In 2016, former Chief Justice TS Thakur had asked former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice SK Mukherjee to launch a probe against Judge Bhat on allegations made by a subordinate woman judicial officer. After the probe have him a clean chit, Judge Bhat's name was recommended by the collegium for elevation.
"Someone from Bangalore has already beaten us in the race to the bottom. The Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court is more than willing to do the Executive bidding, behind our back," Justice Chelameswar wrote in his six-page letter.
The top court judge took serious note of the communication between Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and the executive, saying, "The role of the High Court ceases with its recommendation." He said any correspondence, either for clarification or otherwise, has to be between the executive and the Supreme Court.With inputs from agencies