India Supreme Court judges: Democracy is in danger

Supreme CourtImage copyright Reuters
Image caption India’s top court is facing intense scrutiny

Four of India’s most senior Supreme Court judges have publically challenged the authority of the head of the judiciary – in an unprecedented move.

In a letter and a press conference, the judges said the chief justice was assigning cases to benches of his preference, breaching court rules.

Democracy would not survive in India unless the court’s regulations were followed, they added.

This is the first time Supreme Court judges have ever addressed the media.

By convention, they have not spoken directly to press in the past, so as to appear impartial in court cases.

The unprecedented event has prompted India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold an emergency meeting with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The four judges also circulated a letter they had addressed to the chief justice, expressing their unhappiness with “certain judicial orders” passed by the court, which they claimed “adversely affected the overall functioning of the court”.

They said they had no choice but to “address the nation” because Chief Justice Dipak Misra had “refused to listen to their concerns” earlier.

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