Judicial dispute has hit investment sentiment on key gauges
Case involving death of fellow judge one reason for the rift
A unprecedented rift has opened in India’s supreme court, with four senior judges speaking out against the chief justice in a move that could hinder Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to sell Asia’s third-largest economy as a transparent investment destination.
“We thought we owed a responsibility to the institution, to the nation,” Chelameswar said. “We tried to collectively persuade the chief justice that certain things are not in order, therefore he should take remedial measures.” The chief justice declined, he said.
A divided house in India’s top court raises broader questions about the quality of the Indian legal system as it regularly rules on significant business and economic matters such as Vodafone Group PLC’s years-long tax case. Despite jumping 30 spots on the World Bank ease of doing business ranking, India remains 164th in the world for “enforcing contracts,” in part because of the subjective allotment of judges to cases.
Investigation of Judges
Chelameswar and the present chief justice have sparred in recent months over allocating cases that could have ended in investigation of some of the sitting judges.
“It is with no pleasure in our hearts that we were compelled to take this decision to call a press conference,” he said. “For sometime, the administration of the Supreme Court is not in order, many things that are less than desirable have happened in the last few months.”
“It’s an extraordinary event in the history of any nation,” Chelameswar said. “An extraordinary event in the history of this institution.”
Any uncertainty related to the federal government is a “sentimental negative” for the markets, Ajay Srivastava, managing director at Dimensions Consulting Pvt. in New Delhi said.
An independent judiciary is one of the fundamentals of economic growth and the comments made by judges might raise question about its credibility, Srivastava said.
The judges made their remarks from wicker chairs set on the back lawns of a faded colonial-era government bungalow, which are allotted to senior officials in New Delhi.