In a move unprecedented in the history of Indian judiciary, four sitting members of the Supreme Court Collegium met mediapersons in New Delhi to signal their "anguish and concern" over certain procedural matters as decided by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra.
Justice J. Chelameswar, flanked by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, addressed the media at Justice Chelameswar's residence a little after 12.00 pm on Friday. Here are short profiles of these four senior Justices.
Justice Jasti Chelameswar, who was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2011, has been involved in some high-profile judgements including the one which said that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was unconstitutional. He was also a member of the three-judge Bench which confirmed that the Aadhaar card is not compulsory and that officials who insist on them will be taken to task.
In October 2016, he was in the spotlight when he became the lone dissenting judge on the five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar, which scrapped the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) law passed by Parliament. In the following month, he chose to opt out of the Supreme Court collegium meetings till the highest judiciary ushers in transparency.
Hailing from Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh, Justice Chelameshwar graduated in Law from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in 1976, according to his official Supreme Court profile. He served as the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and Chief Justice of Kerala before he was elevated as Judge, Supreme Court of India on October 10, 2011.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who hails from Assam, had been at the Gauhati High Court before being transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 9, 2010. He was appointed as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011. He was elevated as a Supreme Court Judge in April 2012. Justice Gogoi recused himself from hearing the plea filed by a lawyers’ group against the proposed elevation of Justice J.S. Khehar as Chief Justice of India in December 2016. Justice Gogoi also led the Bench which heard the sworn statement of former CBI officer in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Born on November 30, 1953, Justice Joseph began his legal practice in 1979 in the High Court of Kerala. He was elevated as a Kerala High Court Judge on July 12, 2000, according to the Supreme Court website.
Having served twice as the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Kerala, he was elevated as Supreme Court Judge March 8, 2013.
Justice Joseph is due to retire on November 30, 2018. "Judges do not depend on their Chief Justice of India for courage to serve without 'fear or favour', they derive it from the Constitution of India," Justice Kurian Joseph corrected a 92-year-old litigant in an open courtroom at the Supreme Court in 2014.
He practised in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court as an advocate before being appointed as the Additional Solicitor-General of India in July 1998 and continued till he was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court in February 1999. He was made a Permanent Judge of that High Court in July 1999 and was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on June 24, 2010.
Following that, Justice Lokur was transferred as the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, a post he held till he was recommended by the collegium of judges to be elevated to the Supreme Court in 2012. The recommendation followed Justice Dalveer Bhandari's resignation from the SC after he was elected as a judge in the International Court of Justice.