Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

SC spending too much time on non-issues: Justice Kurian Joseph

In the aftermath of their press conference, Joseph said, there was more transparency and things were now being done with greater caution

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is spending a substantial amount of time on non-issues rather than looking at burning problems because of mounting public interest litigation, retired justice Kurian Joseph said on Friday, a day after retiring. “The Supreme Court should concentrate on the issues that affect the citizens and weed out all the rest," he told reporters at his home.

Clearing the air on the controversial January press conference where he and three other judges publicly questioned the leadership of former chief justice Dipak Misra, the retired judge said that it was a “conscious decision taken for a cause as there was no other way left".

In the aftermath of their press conference, Joseph said, there was more transparency and things were now being done with greater caution. But it was an institutional crisis, and it would take time to achieve change in systems and practices that had been around for years.

Joseph added that the roster system was only one of the pressing issues highlighted at the press conference, and that there were several systems and practices that needed reform. Joseph also called for collective leadership at the apex court, suggesting that the Chief Justice be assisted by a committee for taking important decisions.

On the issue of the pending memorandum of practice (MOP), he was of the view that while according to the Supreme Court it has been finalized, the government says it has not. The MOP is a document that determines the procedure of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

“I have no idea about the differences between government and judiciary on the MOP. It’s not clear to anybody. Government kept saying in the Parliament that it’s not final. The draft MOP is operative but whether it is final or not we don’t know," Joseph said.

When questioned on the defiance of judgments by political parties he said that once a judgment was pronounced by the court it becomes the law of the land and if it cannot be followed then the concerned political party will have to come back to court and seek appropriate clarification.

He called for infrastructure development at the apex court, including bigger courtrooms, to handle the current volume of cases and people. Other changes suggested were limiting the number of cases, and having single-judge benches for matters such as bail, transfer and matrimonial cases.

Joseph retired on 29 November after a five-and-a-half year tenure.

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