In a first-of-its-kind press conference in Independent India on Friday, 12 January, four senior judges of the Supreme Court said that the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less desirable things” have taken place.
Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph appealed to the nation to preserve the independence of the judiciary, asserting that the “Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has left us with no option but to go public about what is going on within the collegium.”
As Friday's development puts the limelight on the functioning of the Supreme Court, here's a closer look at the four judges who called for the presser.
(Catch all the live updates on the matter here.)
Justice Jasti Chelameswar
Born on 23 June 1953 in Andhra Pradesh's Krishna district, Justice Jasti Chelameswar studied in Hindu High School in Machilipatnam and then graduated in science (physics) from the Loyola College in Chennai. Justice Chelameswar studied law at Andhra University in 1976.
He served as a senior counsel in 1995 and later that year was appointed additional advocate general.
In 1997, he became the additional judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, followed by his elevation as judge in 1999. Chelameswar became the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court in 2007, and three years later on 17 March 2010, he took charge of the Kerala High Court as Chief Justice.
Justice Chelameswar became a judge at the Supreme Court on 10 October 2011.
Justice Chelameswar is often seen as a ‘rebel’ in the Supreme Court. When the apex court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) as a body for appointing judges, Justice Chelameswar was the only dissenter, indicating his reservations regarding the collegium system.
His name came to limelight again in the Medical Council bribery case in November 2017, where the CJI annulled an order passed by him, revealing that all is not well in the judiciary.
A Supreme Court Changed Forever
Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Justice Ranjan Gogoi was born on 18 November 1954 and joined the Bar in 1978. His practice primarily pertained to the Gauhati High Court. In February 2001, he was elevated to the position of permanent judge in the Gauhati High Court, and in 2010, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
He was appointed the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February 2011. A year later, he became a Supreme Court judge.
Notably, Justice Ranjan Gogoi was the first Supreme Court judge who fined a petitioner Rs 5,00,000 for withdrawing his petition after it came up for hearing in front of the court, saying the petitioner “had wasted precious time of the court.”
Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur
Born on 31 December 1953, Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur initially studied in Delhi but completed class 12 from St Joseph's College, Allahabad, in 1971. He pursued History Honours from St Stephen's College and then went on study law at the Faculty of Law, Delhi University.
Enrolled as an advocate in 1977, Justice Lokur has extensive experience when it comes to civil, criminal, constitutional, revenue, and service laws. He served as the additional solicitor general of India in 1998. A year later, he became a permanent judge of the Delhi High Court.
After his stint as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, from June 2010 to November 2011, and Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, from November 2011 to June 2012, he appointed as Supreme Court judge in 2012.
In May 2012, a Andhra Pradesh High Court divisional bench of then chief justice Madan Lokur and Justice PV Sanjay Kumar, struck down the Government of India's decision to allocate 4.5 percent sub-quota (within the 27 percent Other Backward Classes quota) for minorities.
As the chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Lokur suspended Special CBI Judge T Pattabhirama Rao and ordered his prosecution in a mining scam case of the Reddy brothers.
Justice Kurian Joseph
A resident of Kerala, Justice Kurian Joseph was born on 30 November 1953. His legal career began in 1979 in the Kerala High Court. He served as the government pleader in 1987, and was designated senior advocate in 1996.
Becoming a judge at the Kerala High Court in July 2000, Justice Joseph went on to serve as its acting chief justice twice. After serving as the chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court from February 2010 to March 2013, he was appointed to the Supreme Court as a judge.
Justice Joseph will be retiring on 30 November 2018.
The bench of Justices RM Lodha, Lokur, and Joseph is hearing the controversial coal allocation case.
In July 2015, Justice Joseph had passed a dissenting order after failing to agree with his fellow judge on a “common order” while hearing Yakub Memon’s plea seeking a stay on his execution.
Judge Joseph has said that sometimes judges “go beyond the lakshman rekha and take up the role of an administrator.”
(With inputs from Supreme Court of India website)