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The four judges have left a trail of unsettling questions. And there are no easy answers

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Following the press conference conducted by four of the five senior judges on Friday afternoon about the actions of their fifth colleague, the chief justice of India, feverish activity is likely underway in at least some corridors of power. It is likely that No 5, Krishna Menon Marg, which is the CJI’s residence, is one such place.

In the January 12 press conference, it emerged that the four judges were unhappy with the manner in which the CJI was assigning cases. They had written to him a few months prior, but to no avail. It appears that the breaking point was reached when the CJI assigned a case disregarding specific concern expressed by the four judges in a meeting on January 12 itself. On being questioned, one of the judges affirmed that this pertained to the case of Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. Loya was presiding over the case relating to the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Amit Shah, who is now Bharatiya Janata Party president, was an accused.

The judges released an undated letter, which they said had been sent by them to the CJI two months ago, cautioning him about the perceived harm to the institution that assignment of cases without a rational basis could cause. The letter explicitly omitted further details of instances which the judges felt had already caused harm to avoid embarrassment to the institution. The press conference unfortunately was as cryptic as it was brief. The letter seemed to point to serious issues and yet deliberately refrained from spelling them out.

What is clear though is that these events came to light after festering in the darkness for several months. What began as faint murmuring in court corridors has turned into a loud........

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