Former top judges join criticism of India’s Chief Justice

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NEW DELHI Four former senior Indian judges yesterday released a letter in support of a group of Supreme Court judges who last Friday openly criticised the way the top court was functioning.

The retired judges - including a former Supreme Court judge and a chief justice of the Delhi High Court - confirmed they issued an open letter to the Chief Justice of India after four sitting Supreme Court judges held a press conference last Friday in which one of them warned that democracy was under threat due to the way the top court was being run.

The four sitting judges had criticised distribution of cases to judges and raised concerns about judicial appointments in the nation's highest court under Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who has not responded to their allegations.

The former judges said in the open letter: "We agree with the four judges that though the chief justice of India is the master of roster and can designate benches for allocation of work, this does not mean it can be done in an arbitrary manner such that sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges by the chief justice."

Reuters confirmed the letter was signed by former judges P.B. Sawant, A.P. Shah, K. Chandru and H. Suresh. Last Friday's incident prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold an emergency meeting with his law minister. - REUTERS