judicial system

No change in Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench, despite press conference by senior judges

The five-judge Constitution bench will begin hearing cases such as the one challenging the validity of the Aadhaar system from Wednesday.

In its list of cases published Monday, the Supreme Court named the five judges who would sit on a Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to hear a range of crucial matters, including the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and the 2013 judgement criminalising unnatural sex, from January 17.

The composition of the bench remained the same as the previous one that had heard matters related to Aadhaar. This meant that not one of the four senior-most judges after Misra – Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur or Kurian Joseph – were named as part of the bench, PTI reported. The four justices had held an unprecedented press conference on Friday and voiced their reservations regarding the manner in which the chief justice had been assigning cases to benches.

The five-judge Constitution bench comprises Chief Justice Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan. The same judges had heard Constitution bench matters from October 10, 2017, including the power tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government and the passive euthanasia case.

The judicial crisis

At the press conference on Friday, Justice J Chelameswar, who is lower in seniority only to Misra, had said the Supreme Court owed a responsibility to the institution and the nation. All four judges said they were speaking out now so that “democracy survives”, as their attempts to get the chief justice of India to address a judicial crisis had gone unanswered. The judges were referring to Misra’s allocation of cases in the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Monday, Bar Council of India Chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra had said the rift in the Supreme Court had been “laid to rest”, and that all court rooms were functioning normally.

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