Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 May 2018 11:43:38

THE attempt of senior advocates Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. Prashant Bhushan to insist upon knowing who in the Supreme Court passed the order to transfer the case of two Members of Parliament (MPs) to a five-member bench, seeking impeachment of Chief Justice of India Mr. Justice Dipak Misra, is quite unnecessary and can be suspected of having been done with a hidden agenda. Advocate Sibal withdrew the petition on behalf of his client-MPs suspecting that the judges were not inclined to accept his argument. On his part, Mr. Prashant Bhushan moved a Right-To-Information (RTI) query to the Supreme Court seeking to know who passed the order to transfer the case to the five-member bench and who constituted the bench. Both these attempts appear clearly aimed at questioning the integrity of the process of allocation of cases to judges, thereby also questioning the ability of the five judges to do their job properly. The entire episode is unfortunate and pertains to a non-issue.

There are reasons to suspect that the two advocates are interested in planting doubts in people’s minds about the process of justice. This is nothing but an extension of the earlier attempts by four Supreme Court judges and subsequent impeachment motion which a couple of Opposition parties, led by Congress party, moved in the Rajya Sabha. Even as Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President of India Mr. Venkaiah Naidu rejected the motion on merit, the Opposition parties kept raising a ruckus on the issue with obvious political motive to embarrass the Government. The current petition by two MPs also appears an extension of the same effort.

Obviously, there is a big presumption or bias involved in the actions of the two advocates against the five-member bench comprising Justices Mr. A.K. Sikri (as head), Mr. S.A. Bobde, Mr. N.V. Ramana, Mr. Arun Mishra, and Mr. A.K. Goel. Nothing can be more unfortunate than this. The sorriest part of this politics is that it is undermining the importance of an institution as critical and precious as the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular. No matter what kind of smart argument the promoters of the move might have made, the common public is convinced that it has political motives. How will the Congress party combat this public perception? Until the four judges addressed the unprecedented press conference airing their grievances, the Congress party had never raised any issue about Chief Justice Mr. Dipak Misra. But the moment the four judges dragged the internal issues of the management of details in the Supreme Court to public domain, the Congress party picked up the issue as part of its political campaign against the Government in a pre-election year. This tantamounts to undermining the importance of the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular. Unfortunately, the the Congress party does not realise its mistake.

When the attempt to push a motion seeking impeachment of Mr. Dipak Misra failed after Mr. Venkaiah Naidu rejected it, the Congress party sought to keep the issue alive by taking it to the Supreme Court. There also, it raised the non-issue of who passed the order about the five-member bench. When the bench repeatedly asked what purpose would be served by knowing that particular detail, Mr. Kapil Sibal had no answer, as media reports have us believe. It is difficult to understand really what purpose would be served even if Mr. Prashant Bhushan gets whatever reply from the Supreme Court about who passed the order. There is no doubt that Mr. Sibal and Mr. Bhushan are within their right to seek information which they find necessary to further their cause. But there is also no doubt that the common public looks at their move with some trepidation and suspicion.