Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge in the Supreme Court will sit with the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, at Court No. 1 today, in keeping with a long-standing tradition of the Court.
Justice Chelameswar will officially retire on June 22. However, May 18 will be his last working day before the Court breaks for summer vacation.
Justice J Chelameswar had earlier declined an invitation from the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for his farewell function citing personal reasons, SCBA office-bearers said.
SCBA president Vikas Singh said the bar body had met him last week to invite him for the farewell on May 18, which is the last working day of the Supreme Court before the summer vacation.
“He declined the invite for the farewell function,” Singh told PTI.
Justice Chelameswar had recently courted controversy by holding a press conference along with three other collegium members – Justices Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph – on January 12, in which a litany of allegations were made against Dipak Misra.
On October 15 in 2015, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court struck down the NDA government’s National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), Act, that was envisaged to replace the controversial 24-year-old collegium system of judges appointing judges.
However, a member of the five-judge bench, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, differed from the other four, and wrote a strongly-worded dissent against the collegium system that the judgment effectively restored.
Justice Chelameswar was the lone judge on the bench to uphold the validity of the NJAC, arguing that entirely eliminating the government from the selection process was against the country’s democratic principles.
He went on to agree with the government’s view that there was a lack of transparency in the old system and many undeserving, inefficient and corrupt judges made their way up.
ISSUE OF KM JOSEPH’S ELEVATION
Jasti Chelameswar recently wrote to Dipak Misra to say the collegium should reiterate Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph’s name for elevation to the Supreme Court, after the Centre sent his name back.
Later, the collegium unanimously agreed in-principle to reiterate the recommendation, but decided that the “said reiteration should also be accompanied by the recommendation of the names of Chief Justices of High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, for which detailed discussion is required.”
At another meeting on May 16, the collegium deferred its decision on the issue.
Also read: Justice Chelameswar bids adieu on May 18