Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the faces of the rebellion within the judiciary and part of the controversial press conference against the then CJI Dipak Mishra has retired from the Supreme Court on November 30.
Soon after his retirement, speaking to the Indian Express, former SC judge Kurian Joseph expressed his views about going public over the issue of CJI Dipak Misra and claimed that it was just an “institution crisis” and there was never any “political pressure” on judges to decide cases in a particular way. He further added that the roster system was “only one of the issues” which prompted them to go public. He said that there were other issues pertaining to some issues where one individual was taking decisions without consulting anybody.
Interestingly, in his first interview to the media after his retirement, Justice Joseph denies any political pressure on the administrative decisions in the Supreme Court which led to the controversial press conference. “I don’t think so. I only said that after we spoke out to the nation, things have been done with more caution and there were attempts to bring systems and practices,” he said when asked any political pressure on the CJI to act in a particular way.
However, Justice Kurian Joseph in his recent interview to Times of India has conspicuously taken a U-turn with respect to his earlier statements regarding the political interference in the judiciary claiming that the four judges who came out to the public felt that CJI Dipak Misra was being ‘remote-controlled’ from outside. Former SC judge contradicting his earlier statements claimed that there were several instances of “external influences on the apex court’s working and appointment of judges in SC and HCs.
“Someone from outside was controlling the CJI, that is what we felt. So we met him, asked him, wrote to him to maintain So we met him, asked him, wrote to him to maintain independence and majesty of the Supreme Court. When all attempts failed, we decided to hold a press conference.”
Questioned to explain regarding the “external influences”, Justice Joseph again contradicts himself by saying that there were signs of influences in assigning cases to different benches and to judges who were seen politically biased contrast to his earlier claim of absence of any political interference in the Supreme Court’s allocation of cases. It is rather suspicious to know what made Retd Justice Kurien Joseph change his own statements just after two days of his first interview.
Justice Joseph in his interview also made a startling revelation that the idea of the press conference was of Retd. Justice Chelameswar and that the other three judges including Joseph just agreed to it.
Speaking about the minority tag attached to him, Justice Joseph said that being a ‘minority’ was a hindrance to career progression. He then indulged in fear-mongering claiming that situation could get worse for the people from the minority community. He further said that even if a member of minority community has outstanding merit, he will be counted as a minority for his selection of the post.
However, Justice Joseph again contradicts himself by citing his own experience claiming that he would have been promoted as a Supreme Court judge in the year 2012 itself if his minority tag was considered but was delayed to 2013 maintaining that he was indeed selected on merit.
Further, he says that the selection to the Supreme Court should be made only on the basis of ‘merit’, but subtly adds that there should be provision to select people from the poor and weaker sections of the society. Calling it “constitutional compassion”, he opines that there must be some consideration for poor and weaker sections while not only selecting a person as a judge and even while deciding a case.
Justice Joseph Kurien in his two interviews has been contradictory about his own views regarding the controversial press conference. It is rather interesting to know what made the retired Supreme Court alter his perceivable facts within a span of two days of his first interview.