New Delhi:The Congress today described the public stand taken by four senior most Supreme Court judges on the functioning of the apex court as “unprecedented and extremely disturbing” and sought “careful redressal” of these concerns by the “full apex court”.
The party aligned itself with SC judges by demanding a probe into death of CBI judge BH Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in which BJP President Amit Shah among others is a party.
“SC judges have raised the issue of death of Judge Loya. This has to be addressed at the highest levels in the Supreme Court. SC judges at the top must investigate Judge Loya’s death,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said this evening in his first official press conference after assuming party presidency on December 16, 2017.
Gandhi’s said the development was “unprecedented and one that never happened before”.
“What has happened is unprecedented. SC judges have raised significant questions. This is a sensitive matter. Judges have flagged threat to democracy. These issues need to be looked at carefully. Judges have also spoken of judge Loya’s death and this has to be probed at the highest level in the SC. People have faith in the legal system and this faith must be kept,” Gandhi said treading cautiously on the matter and declining to take questions.
A decision to align with rebel SC judges was taken after a meeting at Gandhi’s residence today. The meeting was attended by veteran Ahmed Patel and former ministers and legal luminaries P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Manish Tewari. All these seniors sat with audiences at AICC headquarters as Gandhi took the dais today.
The Congress demanded that the PIL concerning judge Loya’s death be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court and probe into the death be held under supervision by an independent special investigation team.
Noting today’s developments as “extremely disturbing and those with far-reaching consequences for India’s democracy and judicial independence”, Congress media head Randeep Surjewala articulated a “guarded” party position and stopped short of accusing the judiciary of favouring the BJP government and its leaders.
Congress argued that concerns raised by the judges today should be resolved internally by the judiciary.
“We earnestly appeal that the full court of the SC should take up issues raised…and find solutions consistent with judicial traditions,” a party statement said.
On assignment of cases, though, the Congress decided to advice the SC.
“In the matter of assignment of cases the established convebtions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases with far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the SC,” Surjewala said.
The party flagged delays in finalization of memorandum of procedure by the Government and selective assignment of cases as mentioned by four SC judges as “deeply perturbing” but decided to keep its first response to the issue restrained.
Insiders however said “the situation is evolving” and party’s strategy to the issue would evolve accordingly. Politically, Gandhi set the tone today by demanding a fair probe into Judge Loya’s death – a judge who was hearing a matter against BJP chief Amit Shah.