New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha on Tuesday described the prevailing situation in the Supreme Court as “disastrous” and said though the CJI is the master of a roster, the allocation of cases has to be “fair and in the interest of the institution”.
Stating that “the independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable”, Justice Lodha said it was for the CJI to take the institution forward by showcasing “statesmanship qualities” and taking his colleagues together.
“The phase we are seeing at the Supreme Court today is, to say the least, disastrous. It is high time that collegiality is restored. The judges, though with their different approaches and different viewpoints, must find a common ground that takes the Supreme Court forward. That maintains the independence of the judiciary,” news agency PTI quoted Justice Lodha as saying.
He came with this statement at the launch of a book by former union minister Arun Shourie.
Without making any reference to the incumbent CJI Dipak Misra, Lodha asserted: ” I always felt that independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable and it is for the CJI, who is the leader”.
Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah and Shourie, shared the platform with Justice Lodha and also criticised the functioning of the CJI Dipak Misra.
Shah termed the recent verdict of the top court on the death of special CBI judge BH Loya as, “utterly wrong, and jurisprudentially, incorrect on so very many counts”.
He said that the Supreme Court in the judge Loya case judgement had called it as a veiled attempt to attack on the judiciary and asked “How is asking for an investigation an attack on the judiciary?”
“The system as a whole has evolved into something cold-hearted. Even with all this, the judiciary is still one of the last institutions that are respected, but that is changing,” he stated.
Shah furthere said “The press meet held by four senior judges of the Supreme Court earlier this year made allusions, in no cryptic terms, to the charge of selective allocation of cases, and the misuse of the power of master of the roster. This is a very serious issue and is nothing short of an allegation of bench packing,” he said.
“We cannot function without a judiciary that is independent, or without a justice system that is self-reflective, and is aware of its faults and wants to improve them,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shourie said if CJI Misra has to “say repeatedly that he is the master of the roster … this already means that he has lost the moral authority”.