The Supreme Court judges row that has seen voices being raised from several top jurists today found another voice. Noted jurist Fali Nariman has claimed that there is a complete breakdown in confidence between Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and other judges of the Supreme Court and that this has never happened before in all the 67 years he has practised as an advocate. Nariman said that the development has given rise to lack of accommodation even though the CJI is the master of the roster, The Indian Express reported.
Speaking to IE, Nariman said, “Levels of tolerance have gone down. Lawyers, judges, everybody. The spirit of collegiality which is essential on a Bench as well as in a court has broken down. Up to now, judges, by and large, followed it. Since I came to Delhi in 1972, I have seen 32 Chief Justices, but I have never seen this before.”
“Everything got broken up with Keshavananda Bharati.This was the beginning and now we are seeing what is almost the end,” Nariman has warned.
His comments came months after Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Jasti Chelameswar, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph held an unprecedented press conference in January. Reacting to whether the judges’ reaction was justified, Nariman said, “In this branch of activity, you have to lump it. You have to wait till your Chief Justice retires. Fortunately, he retires at 65 years and there is no extension.”
“The CJI is Master of the Roster. You have to first say that he is. Shanti Bhushan has now presented some petition (in this regard). But being the Master of the Roster doesn’t mean that there should be no spirit of collegiality. He must know what the others are thinking,” the senior advocate to the Supreme Court said.
“I am not disputing that the other judges felt that he was not being fair. That is a grave problem. But whatever it is, you can’t impeach him for this. You can impeach him for taking money or something else but you can’t impeach him for saying I am Master of the Roster…The Chief Justice fixes the benches, he has always done that,” Nariman added.
Nariman also said that Justice Ranjan Gogoi will be the next Chief Justice: “I don’t think the government will be so foolish so as not to appoint him,” Nariman was quoted as saying by IE.