No ! Not at all ! This is not a picture of a politician addressing the media ! It is Justice Kurien Joseph the Honorable Judge of our Supreme Court. Some time back he had also objected when the chief justice then had called for a meeting of all Judges on the Christmas day. That's fine. But I am extremely uncomfortable with this picture. I am very uneasy with the behavior of the four judges on Friday 12th Jan 2017 . The letter they released written to the C.J.I mentioned that, "There have been instances where case having far reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of the Court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment." They may have had their grievances. They may have tried their best but why a press conference. Would these judges have treated a similar rebellion from the judges of the lower courts kindly. Did they not have other creative ways of addressing their grievances? And if the issues were very big how can Justice Kurien Joseph suddenly state on Saturday Jan 13 , 2017 that there was 'No need for any outside Intervention'. Is such a big issue been resolved so soon ?
He also said that. "An issue was raised. Those concerned have listened to it. Such actions would not occur in future. So (I) believe that the issue has been settled," he told reporters here when asked about ways to sort out the issues raised by them. Why did he and his colleagues go to the public if it was such a small issue that it was resolved in a few hours. There is a serious contradiction here. So the 'people of India' whom that have gone to have solved the issues. That is my surmise. A T.V panelist called this act as 'historic' and unprecedented. He also said that 'posterity will judge this to be a great step'. I disagree ! This I see as a precedent . Others lower down in the Judiciary or in zones where being 'reclusive' is the norm will also break the ranks. Justice Ranjan Gogoi one of the four says now suddenly after less than a day of their protest that , 'There is no crisis'. How did it vanish so soon. So than was the protest necessary.
I do not understand law nor do I understand the Constitution But one thing I understand is that in the 5th and 6th decade of their lives these Judges failed to find mechanisms to get procedures followed with the skill of mediation, arbitration and with their long experience of understanding the philosophy of grievance redressal and seeking justice. It is similar to a few Doctors throwing away their scalpels in the operation theater and offering satyagraha in front of the Hospital because serious cases were given to the less senior surgeons for surgery. If the C.J.I is one among equals are these judges not one among equals. So does seniority actually matter? Are the other judges to whom cases have been allotted or cases transferred less competent , poorly skilled or have ulterior motives. Are these four judges 'know it all' members of the judiciary.Should the so called important cases that affect the health of the nation be allotted to them always ?
Having said that let us assume that the C.J.I has erred gravely in his functioning. If these four judges have substantial 'evidence' against the so called 'less among equals' than they should come out in the open immediately. As Lawyer Raju Moray says 'do not speak in riddles talk clearly'. If they suspect motives, wrong doing and there has been travesty of justice reveal it now. Prashant Bhushan calls for impeachment of the C.J.I and says in the days to come 'scandalous material 'will unfold. Needless to say that one of the Judges was found shaking hands with A Raja a leftist ideologue. I do not attribute any motive here. Any one can meet any one in India and one should not see too much in this happy handshake.
A final question is what stopped them from posing there concerns to all the Judges in the Supreme Court and not rush to address the nation. I believe that this press conference will go in history as probably " lapse of reason " where the issue was of seeking 'entitlements' and not only of 'failed conventions & procedures'. I pray that in the future Judges should use their skills to put their house in order and neither flirt with the media nor political ideologues.
[Dr Harish Shetty is a Psychiatrist and an independent thinker]