Hyderabad: The unprecedented action of four senior judges of the Supreme Court publicly criticising the functioning of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has shocked some judges and lawyers of the Hyderabad High Court. Some retired judges, however, have welcome the move as they claim speaking out against alleged malpractices does not mean letting down the prestige of the judiciary.
A sitting judge of the High Court, on condition of anonymity, said that the move of the four judg-es would allow the legislature and the executive to impinge on the independence of the judiciary.
He said that though the Union law ministry has reacted diplomatically, as and when it gets the chan-ce, the Legislature will surely make an attempt to intervene in the issue.
Justice P Lakshman Reddy, retired judge of the High Court, said that the Chief Justice of India cannot ignore the request of the four senior judges when they collectively tried to persuade him to correct certain things which weren’t in order.
Justice Reddy said the CJI should follow certain democratic principles when senior most judges, who are part of the Collegium, brought to his notice certain unwarranted things that were taking place in the court.
Though CJI is the master of the roster, Justice Reddy said that it is unfortunate that the CJI did not heed the request of the senior-most judges and thus forced them to address the nation.
Replying to a query from this correspondent, he said that it is the first time in the history of the Indian judiciary that jud-ges of the Supreme Court have held a press conference criticising the functioning of the apex court.
In the opinion of Justice B. Chandra Kumar, a retired judge of the High Court, speaking out against corrupt practices by senior judges will not damage the prestige of the judiciary, but would build confidence in people about the judicial system of this country.
Justice Kumar said it was not proper to take away a case from a judge who is known to be honest and sincere on the pretext that the final verdict will likely go against a man who is in power, and assign the case to some other judge.
He said that this kind of attitude will dent the prestige of the judiciary and cause the people to lose confidence in the top court of the country.
A. Narasimha Reddy, chairman of the Bar Council of AP said that when judges resort to such extreme steps it will dent the decency, decorum and prestige of the judiciary of this country.
He said that the CJI should have tried to settle the issue internally either by constituting a committee or allowing discussion among judges on the issue raised by the four judges.
Maintaining that it is a painful incident, he said, “The four judges committed a mistake and it will send the wrong signals to the judicial system of the entire country. We cannot rule out the possibility of junior judges speaking against the High Courts.”
Sarasani Satyam Reddy, senior advocate and former president of the High Court Bar Association, said, “It is a matter of concern that four senior-most judges of the apex court have publicly vented their collective grievance against the CJI.”
“The incident is unwarranted as non-issues are sought to be made national concerns,” he said.
Mr Satyam Reddy asked while functioning as Chief Justices of High Courts, how many times have these four judges taken decisions to the satisfaction of all the judges of the High Court? “Many judges on the bench may have been unhappy with their functioning, but none went to the press,” he said.
The senior advocate said that matters concerning the roster is the prerogative of the CJI and cannot be made an issue. “Duri-ng their tenures as CJs at High Courts, these same judges enjoyed that prerogative as well. It is imp-roper to make it an issue.”
He said utmost trust and faith is placed in the office of the CJI and other Constitutional functiona-ries by the framers of the Constitution, which has worked till now and will continue to work irrespective of the criticism.