- Published: Wednesday, 17 January 2018 11:26
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Amid a virtual rift, the Supreme Court announced on Monday the composition of a five-judge constitution bench headed by the CJI, which does not include the dissenting judges.
As per official information, the bench, comprising CJI Misra, Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan will commence hearing crucial matters from January 17, according to news agency PTI. The five-judge bench will hear major cases such as those challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act and its 2013 judgement re-criminalising gay sex between consenting adults.
The same combination of judges had last year heard various constitution bench matters from October 10, including the power tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government over administrative jurisdiction and a matter relating to passive euthanasia.
This bench will also hear the contentious issue of the ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple and resume hearing a legal query on whether a Parsi woman would lose her religious identity if she marries a man from a different religion.
The other issues to be dealt with by constitution bench include the pleas, which have raised a question as to when will a lawmaker, facing criminal trial, stand disqualified. All these matters were earlier referred to larger benches for adjudication by different benches of the apex court.
Meanwhile, the four judges who have publicly criticised CJI Misra on several issues met on Tuesday, as parleys to resolve the Supreme Court crisis continued. Their meeting came hours after the CJI reached out to them at the apex court lounge and held talks with them over tea, before starting the day’s proceedings in the apex court.
The outcome of the deliberations is not known. News agency PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying that “nothing concerete has emerged”. Some of the judges, lower in the apex court hierarchy, are in favour of some rapprochement at the earliest on the grounds that the reputation of the judiciary is at stake.
A resolution and some administrative changes in the Supreme Court that address the grievances of the four judges, are imminent, said a person familiar with the matter. The five judges will meet again on Wednesday, this person added.
On Friday, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph --- four senior-most judges in the apex court after the CJI --- held an extraordinary press conference where they publicly criticised the Chief Justice of India over allocation of cases and constitution of benches. The judges complained publicly that “administration of Supreme Court is not in order and there have been things less than desirable that have happened in the court”.
After the media conference by the four judges, there have been efforts by sitting judges and some others to mediate a solution to the crisis. Bar Council of India, the apex regulatory body for advocates in the country, set up a seven-member delegation that met the CJI Misra and 14 other judges of the top court on Sunday. The Supreme Court Bar Association too pitched in with efforts and its president Vikas Singh met the Chief Justice of India and other judges.
(Source: The Hindustan Times)