Attempts to demean: Dragging Supreme Court into unnecessary controversies

‘Trust’ is a word much deeper than any oceanic depth, the trust shapes relations, it builds institutions, it paves the way towards future, where the impeccable past reassures the faith reposed in it. Individuals, as well as institutions, take years of toil to gain trust in the society, the society itself is an amalgamation of individuals, who are moulded in different thought processes, ranging from political to individual philosophies. Gaining ‘trust’ in such a turf is a hard battle, the individual as well as the institutions, whoever or whatever they are would be subjected to thorough introspection by the society. It’s an altogether different matter if someone raises a million dollar question that who has given the authority to society to make such microscopic introspections. It has been continuing for ages and the same shall continue in the times to come. The crux of the point thus made herein is one has to think not twice but a thousand times before tearing apart the ‘trust’ reposed on an individual or on an institution.

The whole nation has been eagerly watching the debates centering around the Supreme Court of India for the last few weeks after the unprecedented presser held by the sitting judges of the apex court. The issue grabbed the attention of the whole society, as it sent a signal, that all is not well in the Supreme Court. The issues raised were essentially related and rooted in the administrative functional part of the apex court, which unfortunately got spilled into the public domain, where, the society at large, no way could have contributed in any manner towards its redressal. Still, the nation debated the issue, legal luminaries came up with their viewpoints, the debate trickled down to tea shops and coffee houses too, where the participants discussed the issue, taking cues from channels but they reached their own conclusions, raising the ‘issue of trust’ leaving everything else, as the same were beyond the comprehension of the common man, as it involved the nitty gritty of assigning of the cases and other functional inner house mechanisms. But, such discussions did not end before reaching a general consensus on ‘institutional decay’ none could interfere, to defend or clarify, as the debaters had deep imprints in their mind.

The apex court’s role as ‘voice of the voiceless’ painstakingly made over the years but not intentionally carved out, submerged in this debate. The call for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) of the Supreme Court and vice versa, the judges who held the presser, was rife in the initial days. Fortunately, such debates ended up when the apex court itself was left to put its house in order. The ‘political executive’ maintained a much-warranted distance from these issues and made its intentions clear, not to interfere in this crisis in any manner. Now, the focus shifts, the call made by the CPM General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, to bring an impeachment motion against the CJI, in the present Parliament session, is uncalled for. Judiciary should be left alone to solve its problems. The short-term political goals intended to be achieved by stepping into the crisis would push the largest democracy into a deep crisis, as the said move would certainly sow seeds of a  battle between the executive and judiciary. Though the requisite numbers for effecting such a motion are not going to be gathered, the very debate would cause irreparable damage to the institution.  The move is certainly not made in the interest of the highest institution as nothing as defined in the Constitutional provisions under Article 124 (4) arose to bring in such a motion under the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968.

The unnecessary controversies have been hunting the apex court for some time, the major one which rocked it in recent past was when a communal overtone was attributed to the All India Judges Conference, by a sitting judge, who wrote to the then Chief Justice that the Conference should not have been scheduled on a holiday like Good Friday, when the religious ceremonies and family get – together is held. The CJI was also reminded of the slow drifting away of the institution from the secular fabric and the mandate of the Constitution. The then CJI H L Dattu, in a strong reply, reminded the sitting judge that ‘institutional interest should be given preference to individual interest’. It was further clarified by the then CJI Dattu that the Conference was scheduled on holidays as the participating Chief Justice’s of various High Courts would save their valuable time and they can contribute to the cause of judiciary. The then CJI also reminded an advocate who agitated the issue before his bench that the conference was scheduled on national holiday’s earlier as well like in Good Friday and Independence Day and other national holidays, to ensure that the work across the High Courts was not affected.

The discussion could be concluded with a safe finding that ‘trust’ is not a mere five letter word, it is the result of hard toil earned by an institution or individual, think before tearing apart, the wrath can burn anything, the ashes can’t reconstruct.

(The author is an advocate at Supreme Court.)