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PDP backs Mehbooba Mufti as CM but BJP bargains for 50:50 formula

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Srinagar:  The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the governor to let Mehbooba Mufti, the daughter of late Mohammad Sayeed, to administer the Muslim-majority state.

However, PDP’s coalition partner BJP might reportedly bargain for a 50:50 formula for running the state.

A huge mass of mourners assembled at the first ‘Nimaz-e-Jinaza’ (funeral prayer) for Sayeed here and a second in his hometown Bijbehara where he was laid to rest.

Peoples Democratic Party leaders Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and Altaf Bukhari submitted a letter to Governor N.N. Vohra nominating Mehbooba Mufti as the leader of the PDP’s legislature party — which would entitle her to assume charge as the new chief minister.

A senior PDP leader said its coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party, backed Mehbooba Mufti’s elevation as chief minister.

Mehbooba Mufti, a Lok Sabha member, will have to get elected to the assembly or be nominated to the legislative council (upper house) within six months if she succeeds her late father as the chief minister. She will be the first woman chief minister of the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

However, BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna, who is in charge of the party affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, said the chief ministerial issue has not been decided yet, and the party will take a call soon.

“There has been no discussion over the issue of the chief ministerial candidate yet. When the matter comes up, the party will take a call”,  Khanna told media.

“It is for the PDP to decide who will be its legislature party leader”, he said when asked about the PDP nominating Mehbooba Mufti as its leader in the state legislature.

Another top BJP functionary said that the party will push for the formula of 50:50 for the remainder of the chief ministerial term, meaning for half of the rest of the term the PDP would head the government and the BJP for the other half.

“Mufti saheb had proposed earlier too to consider Mehbooba as the chief minister when we were in talks for the formation of the government earlier, but we were not ready”, he said.

“We had clearly said that if he himself opts for the top post, the BJP has no problem but if Mehbooba would be projected, the BJP would go for 50:50 formula”, the BJP functionary said on condition of anonymity.

In the last assembly elections, the Peoples Democratic Party won 28 seats and the BJP 25. The opposition National Conference got 15 and the Congress 12.

Sayeed died in New Delhi on Thursday, 14 days after he was hospitalised.

He passed away at 9:10 AM at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, three days after he was put on a ventilator. “A severely diabetic, he died due to bone marrow dysfunction”, a spokesman of the AIIMS told media. He was admitted to the AIIMS on December 24 with fever as well as a chest infection.

Amid seven-day state mourning, his body was flown to Srinagar.

Sayeed, who survived several attacks on him by militants, was the chief minister for the first time in 2002-05 in a coalition government with the Congress. In March last year, he allied with the BJP to become the chief minister again.

President Pranab Mukherjee lauded his contribution to Jammu and Kashmir and to India through long years of public service.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Sayeed’s exemplary leadership had a major impact on people’s lives crediting him with ‘statesmanship’. Mufti Sahab provided a healing touch to Jammu and Kashmir.”

Sayeed was the third chief minister of the state to die in office — after G.M. Sadiq (1971) and Sheikh Abdullah (1982).

Born in Bijbehara on January 12, 1936, to a family of ‘Peers’, Sayeed studied in Srinagar and at the Aligarh Muslim University before he joined politics in 1959.

After taking on the iconic Sheikh Abdullah, Sayeed became a cabinet minister in Jammu and Kashmir in 1972. Just three years later, he became head of the state unit of the Congress party.

He joined Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986 but quit the following year to throw his lot with V.P. Singh, who revolted against Gandhi’s leadership and went on to become the prime minister in 1989.

Sayeed became the home minister in the V.P. Singh government.

Within days, militants abducted his third daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed, in Srinagar, forcing the VP Singh government to free five jailed guerrillas from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1999, after a brief stint again in the Congress when P.V. Narasimha Rao became its leader, Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba floated the PDP.(IANS)(Picture Courtesy:hindustantimes.com)

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CJI faces revolt from four senior most SC judges

The four judges -- Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur besides Justice Chelameswar -- released a letter they wrote to Justice Misra a couple of months ago

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Supreme court went into a frenzy as four senior judges revolt against CJI. Wikimedia Common
Supreme court went into a frenzy as four senior judges revolt against CJI. Wikimedia Common
  • The sudden revolt against Chief Justice of India (CJI) by the four senior-most judges of Supreme Court has sent the whole judicial system into an uproar.
  • The four judges accused the CJI of corruption and breaches in a surprise Press Conference.
  • Judge Loya’s death’s controversy, supposedly, sparked this reaction out of the other judges.

Divisions in the Supreme Court burst out in the open on Friday when four senior-most judges took an unprecedented step of addressing the media to accuse Chief Justice Dipak Misra of breaching rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches, with one of them pointing to the plea regarding the mysterious death of Special CBI judge B. H. Loya.

The hurried press conference was called to reveal CJI's corruption. Pixabay
The hurried press conference was called to reveal CJI’s corruption. Pixabay

At a hurriedly called press conference at his residence, Justice J. Chelameswar and three other colleagues said the Supreme Court administration was “not in order” and their efforts to persuade Justice Misra even this morning “with a specific request” failed, forcing them to “communicate with the nation” directly.

The four judges — Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur besides Justice Chelameswar — released a letter they wrote to Justice Misra a couple of months ago, conceding that he was the master of roster but that was “not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues”.

Asked specifically if they were upset over reference of the matter seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Judge Loya, Justice Gogoi said: “Yes.”

Judge Loya's death is said to have happened due to a conspiracy. Pixabay
Judge Loya’s death is said to have happened due to a conspiracy. Pixabay

Judge Loya, who was hearing a case relating to the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in an alleged fake shootout in which BJP chief Amit Shah was named an accused (later discharged), died of cardiac arrest in 2014. His family has raised doubts over the circumstances in which Judge Loya died and have sought an independent probe into it.

Plea’s seeking probe came up for a hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday when the top court expressed concerns over it and said it was a “serious issue”. It asked the Maharashtra government to produce all the documents related to the case before January 15.

In a seven-page letter, the four judges said they were not mentioning details of the cases only to avoid embarrassing the institution because “such departures have already damaged the images of this institution to some extent”.

The clash among the judges in the highest court also comes in the wake of a controversial order in November in which Justice Misra declared that the Chief Justice “is the master of the roster” having exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge.

The CJI called himself 'master of roster' further enraging other judges. Pixabay
The CJI called himself ‘master of the roster’ further enraging other judges. Pixabay

The CJI had given the order a day after a two-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar had passed an order that a five-judge bench of senior most judges in the apex court should be set up to consider an independent probe into a corruption case in which bribes were allegedly taken in the name of settling cases pending before Supreme Court judges.

Holding that the Chief Justice was only the first among equals, the four judges contended that there were well-settled and time-honoured conventions guiding the Chief Justice in dealing with the strength of the bench required or the composition thereof.

“A necessary corollary to the above-mentioned principle is the members of any multi-numbered judicial body, including this court, would not arrogate to themselves the authority to deal with and pronounce upon matters which ought to be heard by appropriate benches, both composition-wise and strength-wise with due regard to the roster fixed,” they wrote in the letter.

They said any departure from the two rules would not only lead to “unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution” but would create “chaos”.

The four judges also touched upon another controversial issue, the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on the appointment of judges over which the Supreme Court had locked horns with the government.

The four judges also touched upon other problematic issues. deliason.files.wordpress.com
The four judges also touched upon other problematic issues. deliason.files.wordpress.com

The government, the letter said, had not responded to the communication and “in view of this silence it must be taken that the MoP has been accepted by the government on the basis of the order of this court”.

Justice Chelameswar told the media that they were “convinced that unless this institution is protected and maintains its requirements, democracy will not survive in the country or any country… The hallmark of a democracy is independent and impartial judges.

“Since all our efforts failed… Even this morning, on a particular issue, we went and met the Chief Justice with a specific request. Unfortunately, we could not convince him that we were right.”

Justice Gogoi said they were “discharging the debt to the nation that has got us here”.

The government appeared to distance itself from the controversy, saying the judges should sort the issue themselves.

Minister of State for Law P. Chaudhary said: “Our judiciary is one of the known, recognised judiciaries in the world. It is an independent judiciary. At this stage, I think no agency is required to intervene or interfere. The Chief Justice and other members should sit together and resolve. There is no question of panic.”

the matter should be resolved among the judges themselves, says P. Chaudhary.

The Supreme Court split had an immediate political fallout, with CPI leader D. Raja saying after meeting Justice Chelameswar that Parliament will have to devise methods to sort out problems like this in the top judiciary.

Two judges, Justice S. A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageshwar Rao, are understood to have called on Justice Chelameswar. IANS