Chief Justice of India H L Dattu today sought to downplay the “unfortunate” row surrounding his colleague Kurian Joseph’s objection to holding of Judges’ meet on Good Friday, saying the presence of only three top judges of the Supreme Court is mandatory for such events.
Justice Dattu said the two-day affair on Friday and Saturday was actually not a ‘conference’ but a meeting where judges discuss among themselves issues and problems related to the judiciary.
When asked about the issues raised by Justice Joseph, he termed it as “unfortunate”.
“I am the head of the family…if one member questions me, we will settle it ourselves,” he told reporters in an informal interaction after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the joint conference of Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Ministers.
He said as judges do not get time to interact with each other, such meetings are held periodically where important issues are discussed.
For such meetings, all Supreme Court judges are invited but the attendance of top three apex court judges — the CJI and two senior-most judges (in this case Justice T S Thakur and Justice A R Dave) — is mandatory.
The last such event was organised on April 7, 2013.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Justice Joseph had said: “Irrespective of the religion, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Eid, Bakrid, Christmas, Easter etc. are great days of festival celebrations in the neighbourhood. Your good self would kindly appreciate that no important programmes are held during sacred and auspicious days of Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Eid, Bakrid etc., though we have holidays during that period as well.”
“I regret my inability to attend the event as the Conference coincides with the Good Friday ceremonies. Good Friday is a day of great religious significance to us, marking the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ,” he had said.
Later, talking to reporters, Justice Dattu insisted that the two-day event on Friday and Saturday was not a conference but an “in-house meeting”
“I can certainly say this, this in-house meeting is not a celebration at all. It is pure and a simple discussion by the CJI with his colleagues, with Chief Justices of different states,” he said.
He said it was an in-house meeting because as the head of the institution, once in two years he requests High Court Chief Justices to come to Delhi to discuss the problems the judiciary is facing today and the issues it may have to deal with in the future.
The CJI said the agenda was set when he had met the Chief Justices of states during winter vacations.