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BJP veterans come in support of Kirti Azad who took on Jaitley

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New Delhi: A day after MP Kirti Azad was suspended from the BJP for taking on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over alleged corruption in Delhi’s cricket body, four party veterans have made up their minds to intervene in the matter.

According to reports, the elders – LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar, and Yashwant Sinha – are likely meet Azad at Joshi’s residence on Thursday, and raise the issue in party forum instead of going public with their views.

BJP veterans, including former president L K Advani, met here on Thursday amid signs that a section of the party is not happy over the suspension of Azad.

Advani drove to the residence of another former president Murli Manohar Joshi and was closeted there with BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar, party insiders said.

Shanta Kumar, a former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, met the media but refused to reveal what was discussed.

“Yes, we met, we discussed things, we had tea. I can’t say more.”

But party sources with access to them said they felt that Azad’s suspension on Wednesday had sent out a wrong message since the cricketer-turned-politician had for years been campaigning against financial wrongdoing in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

“Some of them feel that action has been taken against a person who acted like a whistle-blower,” an informed source told IANS.

The veterans reportedly feel that the move against Azad, a three-time Lok Sabha member from Darbhanga in Bihar, would harm the party.

For eight years, Azad has been campaigning against alleged financial irregularities in the DDCA, which was headed by Jaitley for 13 long years until 2013. Jaitley says he has done no wrong.

The minister has sued Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders for suggesting that he was corrupt.

In a related development, more than 100 supporters of Azad, who was in the Indian cricket team that won the 1983 World Cup, staged a noisy protest outside the BJP headquarters here against his suspension.

Azad, suspended for “anti-party activities”, sought help from the party’s “Marg Darshak Mandal” which comprises of Advani, Joshi, the now ailing former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

This was not an official meeting of the “Marg Darshak Mandal” but one of the veterans who also took a stand widely seen as critical of Modi’s and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah’s leadership after the party’s huge defeat in assembly polls in Bihar.

There was no official comment from the BJP on what Advani and others discussed. A BJP leader, Srikant Sharma, told the media that the party “respected the senior leaders”.

Advani, Joshi, Shanta Kumar and former finance minister Sinha are known to be unhappy with the working style of Shah, a confidant of Prime Minister Modi.

After the BJP’s Bihar setback, these party veterans took on Modi and Shah, demanding “a thorough review” of the debacle. They said the defeat showed the party had learnt nothing from its crushing defeat by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi in February.

The AAP and the Congress have both come out in support of Azad, son of former Bihar chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad. Azad said on Wednesday that his suspension was “unfortunate” and that his fight was against corruption and not any individual.

(With inputs from agencies)

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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