Former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde today “wholly” condemned the action of four senior judges in going public over internal matters of the judiciary, saying it affected the reputation of the institution and may amount to contempt of court. Questioning their action, he said internal matters of the judiciary should not have been brought to the public for discussion, because neither the public, nor the government or the executive can give any relief to them. “I wholly condemn the press meet yesterday held by the four judges of the Supreme Court. “My complaint is these things should not have been publicly discussed, consequent to which the reputation of the judiciary has been affected,” he told PTI. In an unprecedented move in the country’s judicial history, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had held a press conference yesterday and mounted a virtual revolt against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, questioning him on the ‘selective’ allocation of cases and certain judicial orders passed by him. Hegde, a former Lokayukta of Karnataka, said their action would not benefit anybody other than drawing public attention. He said institutions like the judiciary survive on the confidence of the people. “Once the confidence of the people is lost, the institution will be useless,” he said.
Agreeing that the judges’ intention was to ‘bring the muck out of the system, he disapproved of their approach as it would set a new precedent where judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court would start bringing their differences into the public domain. On whether their action was liable for impeachment,Hegde said he does not want to go to that extent, though he felt it can be possible, given the fact that a Calcutta High Court judge was impeached for contempt of court. He however, felt that their action may amount to contempt of court.
“Yes, it may amount to contempt of court but I am not talking about that…I don’t want to take the issue to another direction. I am only questioning the action of the four judges who came out saying that the Chief Justice is being giving cases according to his whims and fancies. “Yes, that is the jurisdiction given to him. And why not? That bench before which the case is posted does not have only person. There are two other judges there.”
“That means you are suspecting the three judges. Let us not denigrate the institution,” said Hegde.