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Death of Justice Loya needs to be probed at the highest level of the Supreme Court: Rahul

The judges, who are most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice – said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”.

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Rahul Gandhi

The Congress on Friday described the comments made by four Supreme Court judges as “extremely disturbing” and appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court to find solutions to preserve the independence of the judiciary even as party President Rahul Gandhi demanded that its senior-most judges should supervise an SIT probe into the mysterious death of Special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.

The Congress issued a statement after Gandhi met senior party leaders, including P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal who are also leading lawyers, and discussed the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior-most judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur — who were critical of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The Congress and Gandhi demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

Gandhi, who made a brief statement to the media, said it was “a sensitive and important matter” and that “the points raised by the judges are extremely important”.

“The points that have been raised by the four judges are extremely important. They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it needs to be looked into carefully.

“They have also made a point about Judge Loya’s case. I think that is also something that needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be looked at from the highest levels of the Supreme Court.”

He said the press conference by judges “never happened before”.

“It’s unprecedented. I think all citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court are looking at this issue.”

Calling it an “unprecedented development”, the Congress the observations made by the four judges and the issues raised by them in the press conference and in the letter to the Chief Justice were “extremely disturbing and have far reaching consequences for the values that we hold sacred: safeguarding democracy and preserving the independence of the judiciary”.

It said the judges have specifically highlighted two issues. “The long silence of the government of India to the Memorandum of Procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court and the assignment of cases in the Supreme Court to what is described as ‘selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment’.

“In answer to a question from the media, the judges referred to the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, which the family of Judge Loya believes was under suspicious circumstances.”

The statement said the judges in their letter have also hinted at other instances which they will raise later.

“The press conference and the letter followed a meeting of the four judges with the Chief Justice of India this morning which, apparently, failed to resolve the issues and obliged the four judges to address a press conference.

“The Congress party is deeply perturbed by these developments. The country holds the judiciary in the highest esteem and millions of people knock on the doors of the courts seeking justice. The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left nearly 40 per cent of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery.”

The statement earnestly appealed that the Full Court of the Supreme Court should take up the issues raised by the four judges and find solutions that are consistent with the traditions and conventions of the judiciary pointed out by them and that will preserve the independence of the judiciary.

“In the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, we believe that the matter must be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure that under their supervision there is a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

“In the matter of assignment of cases, the established conventions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases that have far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court.”

India

Chief Justice Dipak Misra likely to meet four rebel SC judges Today

The sources said the Chief Justice took the initiative of meeting the four judges on January 16 as they were not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting of all judges held the previous day.

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Dipak Mishra

Chief Justice Dipak Misra is likely to meet the four rebel judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — on Thursday to resolve issues relating to the allocation of cases and the functioning of the court.

The meeting that was expected to take place on Wednesday did not materialise as Justice Chelameswar did not attend the court because of his indisposition. He is expected to attend the court on Thursday.

An uneasy truce was reached on Tuesday after the CJI reached out to the four dissenting judges to resolve a rift with them over the allocation of cases in the Supreme Court.

Recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from hearing the matter of Judge Loya’s death is seen by some as an indication of thaw between the CJI and the warring judges who had raised the issue of important cases being listed before judges who are relatively junior to them in terms of years spent in the top court.

During the Tuesday meeting, the sources had said, Justice Misra and the rebel judges had discussed all the outstanding issues, point of contentions and differences.

The sources said the Chief Justice took the initiative of meeting the four judges on January 16 as they were not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting of all judges held the previous day.

On January 15 a misplaced impression was generated that all the issues were resolved after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had said that the events since January 12 were a “storm in a tea cup” and that “everything is settled”.

An informal full court meeting of all the judges took place on Monday when they came to the Judges’ lounge for the customary morning tea before the start of the court.

The country’s top court was hit by unprecedented crisis, after the four senior most judges at a press conference last week expressed their unhappiness about the functioning of the court and how cases were being allocated arbitrarily.

They complained that “administration of Supreme Court is not in order and there have been things less than desirable that have happened in the court”.

The judges also released a letter they had written to the Chief Justice questioning how he was arbitrarily deciding which bench should decide which case and though he is the “master of the roster” that did not make him a “superior authority”.

“The Chief Justice is only the first amongst equals – nothing more or nothing less,” the letter said.

Efforts by sitting judges and advocate bodies to mediate a solution to the crisis have not succeeded.

The Bar Council of India had even set up a seven-member delegation and met Justice Misra and 14 other judges on Sunday. The Supreme Court Bar Association also met the Chief Justice and other judges.

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Don’t see serious trouble, but forces ready for any exigency: Army chief on Doklam

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Bipin_Rawat

New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Army does not visualise any “serious trouble” post-Doklam episode as the border forces of India and China are holding regular exchange and the earlier “bonhomie” has returned, but the forces are prepared for any exigency, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday

Rawat also insisted that the PLA soldiers were not in the same numbers in the North Dolam (Doklam) area as they were at the time of the (India-China military) stand-off

“They have carried out some infrastructure development, most of it is temporary in nature. But while their troops may have returned and the infrastructure remains, it is any body’s guess whether they would come back there, or it is because of the winter they could not take their equipment away,” Rawat said

He was responding to a question on Facebook Live, posted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of the organisers of the multi-lateral ‘Raisina Dialogue’

“But then we are also there. In case they come (back), we will face them,” Rawat added

The Army chief’s remarks come in the wake of media reports about China carrying out some infrastructure development in the disputed region

He said the mechanism in place to defuse the tensions between the two countries are working very well

“After the Dolam incident…we have started our border personnel meeting. We are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communications between the commanders at the ground level is on and the bonhomie has returned which was prior to the Doklam (incident),” he said

The Army chief added, “We don’t visualise serious trouble but then one has to be prepared for it.”

Indian and Chinese troops had been locked in a stand-off for over two months last year in the Doklam area near Sikkim before “disengaging” on August 28

There was also an incident of road building by Chinese civilians at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh, but that was resolved last week.

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India-China have returned to pre-Doklam bonhomie, says Army chief

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New Delhi, Jan 17: The India-China “bonhomie” before the Doklam standoff has returned, Army chief Bipin Rawat said, but added that one should be “prepared for anything”.

In a Facebook Live session during the ongoing Raisina Dialogue organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), he said: “I think the bonhomie (between India and China) has returned to what it was prior to the Dolam (Doklam standoff). I don’t visualise very serious trouble, but then one has to be prepared for anything.”

Gen Rawat said troops were still there in the northern part of the plateau, which is a part of Chinese territory.

“As far as Doklam is concerned PLA soldiers are there in a part of the area, although not in numbers that we saw them in initially. They have carried out some infrastructure development which is mostly temporary in nature.

“While troops (PLA) may have returned and infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there or is it because of the winters that they could not take their equipment, but we are also there, so in case they come, we will face them,” he said.

Rawat however added that the mechanisms established between India and China are working “very well”.

“But mechanisms that we have of defusing tensions between our two countries are working very well and after Doklam, we’ve started our Border Personnel Meeting, we are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communication between commanders at ground level is on,” he said.

At the annual pres conference of India Army recently, the Army chief had said focus should shift to the northern border with China, adding that while China had emerged as a “powerful nation”, India was not a weak nation.

He said road construction had been on in Doklam since 2000, but the Chinese soldiers had come close to Tosa Nala — which divides north and south Doklam — with a large number of manpower and equipment in June last year, just before the India-China standoff started.

IANS

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