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In an unprecedented press meeting on Friday, four top judges of the Supreme Court rebelled against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on the issue of judiciary's freedom.

The press conference by justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, appears to have blown the lid off a growing rift between the senior judges and chief justice Misra.

"We do not want the people to say 20 years later that the four senior-most judges sold their soul", Justice Chelameswar said. Asked specifically if they were upset over reference of the matter seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Special CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, justice Gogoi said: "Yes". Speaking on similar lines, Ravindra Babu said that an All India Judicial Services on par with the IAS should be constituted, while several MPs suggested live telecast of proceeding in the higher courts and the Supreme Court.

Asked by journalists if the chief justice should be impeached, Chelameswar said: "Let the nation decide that". Our country has the reputation of getting the best judiciary and best court since Independence, from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru's days up to Atal Bihari Vajpayee's time.

BJP chief Amit Shah, who had been accused in the case, was discharged from the matter after Loya's death. We had no choice but to communicate to the nation to take care of the institution. Unfortunately, we couldn't convince him. When the Memorandum of Procedure was the subject matter of a decision of a Constitution Bench of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Anr. vs. Union of India [(2016) 5 SCC 1] it is hard to understand as to how any other Bench could have dealt with the matter.

Justice Gogoi, accompanied by three other senior judges of the apex court, levelled various allegations of abuse of power and bench-fixing by the incumbent CJI.

"I think this is the first of many things to come", said Alok Kumar Prasanna, a lawyer and legal researcher.

The Congress and Gandhi demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

The four judges did not provide details of their grievances during the press conference, but they released the letter which they had sent to Chief Justice Misra.

"They also made a point about judge Loya's case".

CJI should not head a small bench and deal with the memorandum of procedure when it was earlier heard by a five-judge bench.

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She also said "extreme interference" of the Centre in the functioning of the judiciary was "dangerous" for democracy, but did not elaborate.

The MoP was formulated on the directions of the Supreme Court in the Second Judges Case of 1993 (Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Another versus Union of India); a nine-judge constitution bench devised the collegium system of appointments. He said: "They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy".

In his brief statement, Gandhi said that all citizens who love the idea of justice and believe in the Supreme Court were looking at the developments, and therefore it was important that those were addressed. From now on every common man could look at all judicial order with suspicion.


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