Four SC Judges Allege Rot in Judiciary, CJI Assures to End Rift
Senior Supreme Court Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph called an unprecedented press conference on 12 January.
Senior Supreme Court Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph called an unprecedented press conference on 12 January.(Photo: Liju Joseph/The Quint)

Four SC Judges Allege Rot in Judiciary, CJI Assures to End Rift

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Chelameswar Calls Press Conference

Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court, has called a press conference at his house at noon today. The reason for the meeting has not been announced.

It is being reported that the benches in Courtrooms 2 and 4 of the Supreme Court have risen. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul sits on the bench in Courtroom 2 with Justice Chelameswar. Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta form the bench in Courtroom 4.

The meeting comes on a day when the SC heard a petition for a special investigation into the death of Judge Loya in 2014, who passed away while hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

An investigation by The Caravan magazine in December 2017 had raised concerns regarding the circumstances of Judge Loya's death.

Justice Chelameswar had referred the matters in the medical bribery cases – filed last year by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms and senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal – to a Constitution Bench. However, the case saw Chief Justice Dipak Misra exercising his powers as master of the roster to reverse the decision.

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Watch the Press Conference Live

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'SC Administration Not in Order'

Addressing the gathering at the lawns of his residence, Justice Chelameswar said this is “an extraordinary event in the history of the nation”.

“With no pleasure we are compelled to take the decision to call a press conference. The administration of the SC is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months,” he said.

Chelameswar was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, and Madan Lokur.

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'Approached CJI But Failed to Persuade Him'

Training his guns on the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice Chelameswar said: "We tried to persuade the CJI (even today morning) but we failed. Our efforts to seek remedial measures failed. Unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country,” he said.

Chelameswar said that a few months ago, the four judges had submitted a letter to the CJI seeking “a particular thing to be done in a particular manner”.

“It was done, but in such a way that it raised further questions on the integrity of institution,” he said.

(Photo: IANS)
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Judicial Independence is Key to Survival of Democracy

“Judicial independence is key to the survival of democracy,” Justice Chelameswar said, adding:

I don’t want some wise men to say that Justice Chelameswar, Lokur and Joseph sold their souls and did not take care of the institution. We just wanted to communicate this to the nation.
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Justice Loya Case

When asked by a reporter if the case in question pertains to the mystery surrounding the death of Judge Loya, Justice Chelameswar replied in the affirmative.

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Nation Should Decide if CJI Must be Impeached

“We are not running politics here. We don’t want to make statements and someone else makes another statement,” he said. When asked if Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra should be impeached, Chelameswar said: “We’re not saying anything. Let the nation decide that".

(Photo: IANS)
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Letter Released

The letter that Justice Jasti Chelameswar referred to at the press conference has been released to the public. “We will give you a copy of the letter which we had written two months back. All the issues are spelt out there. Go through it, you will know all the issues,” he had said.

Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 1 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 1 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 2 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 2 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 3 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 3 of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 4of 7).
Letter from four sitting SC judges to CJI (Page 4of 7).

Read the remaining pages on The Quint.

Watch: The Quint Decode the Press Conference

In a first-of-its-kind event, four most senior judges from the Supreme Court held a press conference on Friday, 12 January, to address the crumbling administration of the judiciary.

The press conference was addressed by Justice Jasti Chelameswar, along with Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, and Madan Lokur.

Snapshotclose

  • Four Supreme Court judges, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, appeal to the nation to preserve the independence of the judiciary
  • “The administration of the SC is not in order,” the judges allege
  • The judges hinted that the issue was related to the Judge Loya case
  • Justice Loya’s son said that his father’s death was not suspicious, in a presser on Sunday
  • Supreme Court Bar Association President met CJI on Sunday evening
  • Bar Council of India discussed the crisis in a 50-minute-long meeting

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SC Judges Draw Support

According to reports, two more judges have met Justice Chelameswar over the issue to express their support in the matter.

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PM Modi Takes Note of Allegations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and discussed the allegations raised by the SC judges at the press conference, ANI reported.

Judicial Predictability is a Cornerstone of Justice: Karuna Nundy

"What has been spoken about is judicial predictability. It's a cornerstone of justice - which cases go to which bench needs to be predictable and determined by subject matter, seniority, the computerised SC system etc. It gives a certain assurance to the litigant that justice is being done,” Supreme Court Advocate Karuna Nundy told The Quint.

“The outcome of a particular case may not be different but the process of who decides, in a predictable manner, is something that is quite important," Nundy said.

Twitter Dubs Issue 'Full Blown Crisis'

See more Twitter reactions to the development on The Quint.

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Lawyers Split Over Development

(Photo: PTI)

“I think it's a historic press conference,” Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising told ANI. "I think we, the people of India, have a right to know what is going on within the judiciary and I welcome this,” she was quoted as saying.”

"CJI Dipak Misra is misusing his power and this must stop. It’s extremely dangerous for our democracy. The for judges have made the people aware about how power is being misused within SC," SC lawyer Prashant Bhushan told CNN-News18.

Slamming the conference, former High Court judge RS Sodhi told ANI: “I think all four judges should be impeached. They should be shut out. They should be sent home. They have no place now to give judicial decisions. They’ve started a trade union there. They should be sent home.”

See more reactions by the legal fraternity to the move on The Quint.

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CJI Dipak Misra Meets AG

CJI Dipak Misra and AG KK Venugopal held a meeting about the press conference, sources told ANI. However, Bar and Bench later reported that the meeting was in connection to the Unitech case and not the developments of the day.

Also Read: CJI Misra Meets Advocate General After 4 SC Judges’ Press Meet

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'Democracy in Danger': Congress

Opposition Congress took to Twitter to react to the developments.

Explained: What Does Supreme Court Judges’ Letter to CJI Mean?

Also Read: Explained: What Does Supreme Court Judges’ Letter to CJI Mean?

(Photo: The Quint)
(Photo: The Quint)

Read more highlights of the letter here.

Yashwant Sinha Reacts to 'Unprecedented Move'

Govt Caught in A Fix: Ganguly

The government is caught in a "fix" over the SC judges' press meet, former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly told CNN-News18. He told the news channel:

Government is caught in a fix. This is an internal issue of the judiciary. Government has no say in the judiciary. Supreme Court is too precious an institution to be left in this state of functioning. I heard that the justices said that they tried and approached the CJI but did not succeed. Well, the CJI must try and resolve this internally as he must first earn the confidence of his peers, that is how he will become the Chief and not merely by seniority
Justice AK Ganguly

CJI Must Address Concerns: Lodha

RM Lodha, the 41st Chief Justice of India told NDTV that the “grievances” of the top court judges should be addressed by the CJI Dipak Misra.

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Issues Raised by SC Judges 'Internal Matter of Judiciary': Govt Sources

The issues raised by the four senior Supreme Court judges in the unprecedented press conference are an "internal" matter of the judiciary, highly placed sources told PTI.

The government has no say in it and does not wish to interfere, sources said, adding that the apex court should settle the issue at the earliest as the faith of the people in the judiciary is at stake.

However, they also added that the apex court should settle the issue at the earliest as the faith of the people in the judiciary is at stake.

Government sources also told News18 that the government is the arbiter of “society and not judiciary.”

This has happened before between Bhagwati and Mehta. It’s a clash of personalities and government needn’t get into it. It is the arbiter of society, not judiciary. Ideally, the four judges should stay away from meeting politicians.
Government Sources
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Bar Council To Meet Tomorrow

Bar Council of India reportedly said that it was “unaware of judges' internal matter”. The Council is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss issue, reported News18.

Watch: The Quint Breaks Down the Letter to CJI

The Quint breaks down the letter to CJI Dipak Misra from four senior judges of the Supreme Court.

Sibal to Meet Rahul to Discuss Judges' PC

Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal will meet party president Rahul Gandhi at 5 pm on Friday, 12 January to discuss the press conference by the four Supreme Court judges, reported ANI.

Historic Step Taken to Protect Our Right to Justice: Vrinda Grover

Senior lawyer and human rights activist Vrinda Grover hailed the four justices of Supreme Court for their public statement. In a Facebook post, she wrote:

Salute, J Chalameswar, J Gogoi, J Lokur and J Joseph, for their unprecedented public statement, to ensure that the institutional integrity of the Supreme Court is not jeopardised. This historic step has been taken to protect our right to justice.
Vrinda Grover
It is heartening to see that these justices who form the collegium view their role and duty as guardians of the rights of the people and to safeguard the Supreme Court. Indian democracy will be grateful for their commitment and conviction. I am reminded today of J HR Khanna.
Vrinda Grover

Loss Of Prestige For Entire Institution: Hansraj Bharadwaj

Former Union Law Minister Hansraj Bharadwaj said that the allegations made by the apex court judges “was a loss of prestige for the entire institution.”

It’s a loss of prestige of the entire institution. If you lose public’s trust, what remains? Judiciary must remain a pillar of democracy. It’s the responsibility of the Law Minister to see how it functions.
Hansraj Bhardwaj to ANI
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Deeply Anguished With SC Developments: Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reacted to the allegations made by the four judges of the Supreme Court, saying that she was “deeply” anguished by the developments. She added that “extreme interference” of the central government with the judiciary was “dangerous.”

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SC to Hear Independent Probe Plea in Judge Loya's Death on Monday

The Supreme Court on Friday, 12 January, sought the postmortem report of Judge BH Loya from the Maharashtra government.

Observing that the matter was "very serious," the Bench listed for hearing the pleas seeking an independent probe into the case on 15 January, reported Live Law.

At the press conference, the justices had replied in the affirmative when asked if the matter of contention was related to the Judge Loya case.

Read more about the Judge Loya case here.

Also Read: Judge Loya’s Death: 13 Questions That Remain Unanswered

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D Raja Meets Justice Chelameswar

Senior CPI leader D Raja, following his meeting with Justice Chelameswar on Friday, said that he would not give the meet a “political colour.”

Have known him (Chelameswar) for a long time. When I came to know of the extraordinary step taken by him and other judges, I thought must meet him. Not giving it political colour. These are concerns for everybody, it’s about the future of the country and democracy.
D Raja
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Congress Leaders Arrive at Rahul's Residence

Congress leaders and senior advocates Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari and P Chidambaram arrived at party president Rahul Gandhi's residence, according to reports. The party leaders are expected to discuss the allegations raised by the SC judges at a party press conference shortly.

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Hope All Actors Seize This Moment: Shashi Tharoor

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, speaking to News18, said that the press conference by the judges was a significant moment for the “evolution of our democracy.”

This is a rather significant moment for the evolution of our democracy. Judiciary is a vital pillar of our democracy. It is important when common man worries about our politician. The political class is not held in the highest regard by the general public. It is often the judiciary that is seen as above the fray, as embodying impartial wisdom.
Shashi Tharoor
When doubt is cast on the utter reliability and probity of the institution of judiciary, then questions arise in the minds of ordinary citizens of India. I hope all actors will seize this moment to do something important.
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Understand the Judges' Intent: Former A-G

Former attorney general Shrihari Aney said that it was important to understand what led to the judges to take such a step.

These are very senior judges and come only after the CJI. They wouldn’t have taken the step without thinking. If it has fallen upon them to take action, it’s up to us to understand what led to that.
Shrihari Aney to ANI
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Democracy Functions In Open Spaces: Rebecca Join

Senior advocate Rebecca John said that democracy functioned in “open spaces and not behind opaque doors,” adding that the issue was about institutional integrity. In a Facebook post, the lawyer wrote:

I find these politically correct responses, to what is clearly an unprecedented crisis, quite tiresome. I too wish it hadn’t come to this. I wish, they could have set their house in order by talking to each other and taking correctional measures. I wish there was no press conference. But sometimes you need to come out, when nothing else works. A democracy functions in open spaces, not behind opaque doors. And the problem facing the judiciary today is very very serious. It’s about institutional integrity. Recognise it.
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Press Conference Could Have Been Avoided: A-G

Attorney General KK Venugopal said the move by the senior-most Supreme Court judges to hold a press conference "could have been avoided," and the judges would now have to act in "statesmanship" to ensure complete harmony.

Venugopal, who held a meeting with CJI Dipak Misra after the press conference, expressed hope that all judges, including the CJI, would rise to the occasion and "wholy neutralise" the "divisiveness," reported PTI.

What has happened today could have been avoided. The judges will now have to act in statesmanship and ensure that the divisiveness is wholly neutralised and total harmony and mutual understanding will prevail in future.
KK Venugopal to PTI
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Watch: Congress Addresses Media on SC Judges’ Allegations

Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala said that the observations made by the serving SC judges are “extremely disturbing and have far reaching consequences.”

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Justice Loya’s Death Needs to Be Investigated Properly: Rahul

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi on the allegations made by the top court judges earlier in the day, said that all citizens who “love the idea of justice” are looking at this issue.

Gandhi demanded the highest-level of investigation in Justice Loya’s death, as hinted by the judges.

The points raised by the four judges are extremely important. They have claimed there’s a threat to democracy, and it needs to be addressed on priority.
Rahul Gandhi, Congress president
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Watch: Senior Advocate Kamini Jaiswal on SC Controversy

Senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal weighed in on the controversy surrounding the letter sent to the CJI Misra.

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Watch: Karuna Nundy Speaks on the SC Controversy

Top Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy breaks down the controversial letter sent by the judges to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

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Unfortunate and Dangerous for Democracy: Somnath Chatterjee

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee said that the press conference by the serving judges would create more problems.

Unfortunate and dangerous for democracy. It’ll create more problems than solve any. Since the judges have spoken, they’ve done disservice to the country because if the judiciary is weakened, questions arise in people’s minds. It already has.
Somnath Chatterjee, former LS speaker
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Judges Have Informed Citizens of a Dangerous Pattern: CJAR

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) released a statement applauding the judges who went public with their grievances.

The judges have formally informed citizens of a dangerous pattern which was becoming visible, of the Chief Justice abusing his power as the master of roster in selectively assigning important and politically sensitive cases to particular benches of junior judges of his choice, in an arbitrary manner, without any rational basis. This would have a serious long-term impact on democracy and the future of our republic.
CJAR statement
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SC Judges' Allegations an Internal Matter: Sambit Patra

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra, at a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi, said that the allegations made by the apex court judges was the internal matter of the Supreme Court.

No politics should be played. Surprised and pained that the Congress, which has been rejected a number of times by the people in elections, is trying to gain political mileage. It has exposed itself.
Sambit Patra

Supreme Court Bar Association to Address PC Today

The Supreme Court Bar Association will hold a press conference today addressing the allegations leveled by four senior Supreme Court judges yesterday over the administration of the judicial system.

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Principal Secretary to PM Denied Appointment to Meet with CJI: Reports

The Principal Secretary to the prime minister, Nripendra Misra, was reportedly denied an appointment to meet with CJI Dipak Misra today.

Nripendra Misra was seen leaving CJI Dipak Misra’s residence earlier today morning. According to reports, Misra attempted to meet with the CJI, but could not get an appointment had to leave after waiting for 5-7 minutes.

Acted in Interest of Judiciary, Justice: Kurian Joseph

Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four senior Supreme Court judges who targeted the country's chief justice over "selective" case allocation and certain judicial orders, on Saturday expressed confidence that the issues raised by them would be resolved.

Joseph said that they acted solely in the interest of judiciary and justice, a day after he and the three other judges took the unprecedented step of addressing a press conference.

He rejected suggestions that they had violated discipline and expressed the hope that their actions will bring in more transparency in the administration of the Supreme Court.

"Stood up for justice and judiciary....that is what we said there (in New Delhi) yesterday. Nothing beyond that," Justice Joseph said in Malayalam when local television news channels approached him at his ancestral home in Kalady, seeking his reaction on yesterday's development.

"An issue has come to attention. It will certainly be solved since it has come to the attention," he told reporters.

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Unity Among SC Judges by Monday: Attorney General

According to NDTV, Attorney General KK Venugopal on Saturday assured that unity among the Supreme Court judges would return by Monday.

Earlier in the day, he had voiced his hopes that the situation would soon come under control and that “everything goes down very well.”

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SCAORA Urges Restraint, Releases Statement

The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association released a statement urging the concerned stakeholders to “exercise restraint” and solve the issues “internally and within the constitutional framework.”

(Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/barandbench/status/952093753480589312">Bar and Bench</a>)
(Photo Courtesy: Bar and Bench)
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Bar Council Meet Begins in Delhi

The Supreme Court Bar Association along with the Bar Council of India holds a meeting in New Delhi. According to CNN-News18, BCI chairman said they will try and meet all the 25 judges in SC tomorrow and get the issue resolved.

Bar Council Meeting underway.
Bar Council Meeting underway.
(Photo: ANI)

SC Not to Take up Justice Loya Case on Monday

Due to the non-availability of Justice M Shantanagoudar, the bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra will not be hearing Justice Loya Death case on Monday. The case might get shifted to Tuesday.

SC Bar Council Holds Press Conference

“We have unanimously decided to form a seven-member delegation of the Council who will meet Honourable judges of the Supreme Court. We want that the matter be solved at the earliest,” said Manan Kumar Mishra, Chairman, Bar Council of India.

They will meet the SC judges at 9 am tomorrow. He urged all political parties to not politicise the matter as it is the judiciary’s internal matter.

As far as MOP is concerned, it must be finalised at the earliest in a proper manner. We will write a letter to the govt for the same but is not that big a matter to be brought in the public.
Manan Kumar Mishra, Chairman, Bar Council of India
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SCBA President Briefs the Media

Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh briefs the media about two resolutions that were passed during their meet. He said that the association has unanimously decided that differences stated by the four judges and reflected in media are of grave concern and urged they be resolved immediately.

The second resolution states all PIL matters must be heard by the CJI or must be assigned to the collegium of five judges.

This must be done in order to maintain credibility of Supreme Court.
Vikas Singh, President, SCBA

Singh also said that he will meet the Chief Justice of India before they meet the four senior SC judges.

SCBA Resolution Hints That Judge Loya's Case Will Be Moved to a Higher Court

The second resolution passed by SCBA means that, if approved, Judge Loya’s case will also be moved to a senior judge’s court.

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No Crisis in SC, Its An Internal Matter: Manan Mishra

Bar Council of India Chairperson after Bar Council delegation after meeting Justice Chelameswar on Sunday said that there was “no crisis.”

We have been told that there is no crisis. It is an internal matter which will be resolved soon. I am sure a solution will be found in 2-3 days.
Manan Mishra, Bar Council Chaieperson

Delhi Bar Association Calls SC Dispute A "Black Day"

The Delhi Bar Association said that this was was a first-of-its kind incident and a black day for them.

“The Chief Justice of India should have looked into the matter beforehand. He should have called a meeting to handle things,” the association said.

If the matter isn’t resolved in 7-10 days, we will call all the Bar Associations of India, hold discussions with them and take to the streets, if it comes to that, in order to make people aware.
Delhi Bar Association
All Delhi Bar Associations on the ongoing crisis in  Supreme Court.<a href="https://t.co/Zeews3JXe8"></a>
All Delhi Bar Associations on the ongoing crisis in Supreme Court.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@LiveLaw)
All Delhi Bar Associations on the ongoing crisis in Supreme Court.
All Delhi Bar Associations on the ongoing crisis in Supreme Court.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@LiveLaw)

Matter of Great Regret for the Family: Justice Loya's Son

Late Justice BH Loya’s son Anuj Loya, in a press conference, said that the family is pained with the chain of events in past few days. They said that it was a “matter of great regret,” and requested people to not harass them.

Speaking about his father’s death, he said that he did not have “any suspicion and it's clear.” Answering a question, he said there was suspicion earlier during the “emotional turmoil period but not now.”

We are convinced that his was a natural death, we do not have any suspicion about it. There is no doubt about it, everything is clear. 
Anuj Loya

Justice Loya’s lawyer Ameer Naik said:

There is no controversy. No need of politicising the issue. This is a tragic event. We do not want to be victims of politicisation of the issue.

Anuj further added that he was no one to decide whether there should be a further probe.

The SC judges on 12 January hinted that the ongoing tussle may be linked to Justice Loya’s death.

Bar Council Delegation Meets Justices Bobde, Joseph

Bar Council of India delegation met Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justice Kurian Joseph at their residences in Delhi on Sunday, 14 January.

(Photo: ANI)

SCBA President Vikas Singh Meets CJI

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh met Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra at his residence on Sunday, 14 January.

The court will resume business on Monday, 15 January.

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BCI Arrives At CJI's Residence

The Bar Council of India delegation arrived at CJI Dipak Misra’s residence to discuss the SC dispute, reported Bar and Bench.

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BCI Leaves CJI Dipak Misra's Residence After a 50-Minute-Long Meeting

A seven-member delegation of Bar Council of India (BCI) met at the residence of CJI Dipak Misra to discuss the crisis in the judiciary. In a meeting that lasted 50 minutes, Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh met CJI Dipak Misra and handed over the SCBA resolution. The panel told PTI that they met the CJI in a congenial atmosphere and he said everything would be sorted out soon.

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