political tinge

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Apr 2018 12:22:10

JUST a day before the impeachment motion moved by seven Opposition parties against Chief Justice of India Mr. Dipak Misra was rejected by Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, a two-line letter signed by Supreme Court judges Mr. Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Mr. Justice Madan Lokur urged the CJI to hold a full court to discuss issues plaguing the higher judiciary. The judges were of the view of “leaving behind the issue of impeachment” and move forward to discuss institutional matters and the future of the top court. A healthy dialogue among brother judges of the highest court is, no doubt, a perfect way to sort out differences. And yet, the timing of this letter raises a few questions about sustained external influences against the high office of the CJI.

Incidentally, Mr. Justice Gogoi and Mr. Justice Lokur were among the four SC judges, along with Mr. Justice Kurian Joseph and Mr. Justice Jasti Chelameswar, who had convened an unprecedented press conference in January to express their displeasure with CJI Mr. Justice Misra. It was an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary and was condemned by legal luminaries, who were of the view that internal matters of the judiciary should not have been brought for public discussion. No matter how much the judges deny, their action had assumed a political colour even if they did not mean it. Now with this letter by the two senior judges it is obvious that the situation has not changed.

All these actions and their timing smack of a political interference in the matters of judiciary. There is definitely a political pitch that cannot be missed. It happened during the judges’ press conference when the role of a certain lobby was exposed. It happened again after the trashing of PILs in the matter of probe into Mr. Justice B H Loya’s death when the Opposition, led by Congress, moved an ill-timed and ill-advised impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, a day after the verdict. Now this statement by the two judges of “going beyond impeachment”.
This statement of going beyond impeachment can be interpreted by anyone as a tacit support to the political move by the Opposition parties. Seeking a full court meeting and discussing issues means there is still an effort by some elements to keep the political pot boiling for their own gains. These are certainly not healthy signs for India’s democracy as well as judiciary.

The patterns emerging in criticising the Chief Justice over allocation of cases and raking up controversies over Master of Roster point to a relentless campaign to malign the institution of Supreme Court. Constantly pestering the CJI to hold a full court meeting can also be seen as a part of keeping the issue alive. Same issues were earlier raised by Mr. Justice Chelameswar during the unprecedented press conference. Subsequent statements undermining the authority of the Chief Justice only muddied the water. Mr. Justice Chelameswar even refused to hear a matter presuming reversal of his order by CJI Misra.

This is washing possibly non-existent dirty linen in public in contrast with the 14th report of the Law Commission that says: “If the public is to give profound respect to the judges, the judges should by their conduct try and observe it; not by word or deed should they give cause for the people that they do not deserve the pedestal on which we expect the public to place them...”As per convention, a full court meeting of the Supreme Court is generally convened by the Chief Justice when a matter of public importance relating to the judiciary comes up. In the present circumstances, happenings in the judicial corridors mostly have political contours. However one tries, one just cannot miss the political import of the two-line letter by Mr. Justice Gogoi and Mr. Justice Lokur. In these times, judicial officers must present a united house and stand by their Chief Justice.