New Delhi: Eminent jurist and senior Supreme Court lawyer Fali S Nariman has said that Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra “may not” have been able to defend the institution and that he should have reached out to the four judges, who held a press conference in January to speak out against the administration of the top court by the CJI.
In an interview to CNN-News18, Nariman said that he expected the CJI to, in fact, constitute a bench and sit with Justice J Chelameswar to bring back harmony and give a quietus to the controversy.As the veteran lawyer’s new book titled God Save the Hon’ble Supreme Court is ready to hit the stands, Nariman pointed out that he has penned a complete chapter on the recent spate of controversies in the apex court, involving the CJI on one side and the four most senior judges on the other.
When asked if the title of the book is inspired by the recent events in the Supreme Court, Nariman said: “Oh, very much! That’s the whole point. The controversy has brought in public mind a lot of doubt… a lot of difficulty as to what to expect from the Supreme Court. If four judges say something, the CJI says something else and others say nothing. What is the public to assume?”
He maintained that Justice J Chelameswar’s November order on a PIL for court-monitored investigation into the MCI scam cases kicked up the entire controversy, leading up to the press conference on January 12.
Nariman disapproved of the order passed by Justice Chelameswar, but emphasised that the buck stops with the CJI, whom he described as the “supremo of the Supreme Court”.
Asked whether CJI Misra has been able to protect and defend the institution in the public eye, Nariman said: “He may not have… In fact, he should have reached out to the other judges and see what could be done. Nobody reached out to the other, but you must reach out. I expected the present CJI to sit with number 2 (Justice Chelameswar)… Every CJI must reach out to judges to see that there is harmony in the bench.”
He added that there is a “lack of collegiality” in the Supreme Court.
“Lack of collegiality is correct…You have to accommodate one another… You cannot say that I am the only person around,” Nariman told CNN-News18.
On the doubts surrounding the appointment of Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next CJI, Nariman asserted that his participation in the press conference cannot disqualify him from taking the helm in October after the retirement of Justice Misra.
“The fact that Justice Gogoi participated (in the press conference) does not disqualify him from becoming the CJI. He must be appointed the successor Chief Justice and that is my firm opinion. This is a constitutional convention that must be respected by all,” he said.
Nariman added that his idea to pen a chapter in his new book on the recent episodes is not to stir controversy, but to give it a quietus. “My concern is not the judges of this court but the institution which is the Supreme Court of India, and the institution of the Chief Justice.”