Is it their duty as Supreme Court judges to protect the Constitution and also the citizen’s faith in the judiciary?

“The framers of the Constitution were so clear in the federalist papers and elsewhere that they felt an independent judiciary was critical to the success of the nation.”

The questions revolve around Justice Deepak Mishra’s arbitrary appointments of benches for cases. A press conference is a grave step, must have taken excessive courage for those judges to come out of their way and set a precedent.  This event had taken place on the 12th of January at Justice Chelameswar’s residence. When questioned about the reason behind the gathering Hon’ble Justice Chelameswar said that the judges were “left with no choice” other than to communicate to the nation the many “less than desirable things” those have happened “in the last few months”. They said in their statement that “certain judicial orders passed by this court” have “adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system.” Justice Chelameswar said that all four of them are “convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”[1]

All the four judges who had participated in the press meet i.e. Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice MB Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph have had a remarkable record of integrity, intellect, and impartiality. This step taken by them to inform the public about the lack of impartiality in deciding cases or in the appointment by the current CJI, Justice Deepak Mishra can be considered as their last resort. The replies given by them during the press conference can be recognized as their deep anguish and their urge to protect the democracy and the Supreme Court. They felt that it was important to educate the country about the absence of unbiasedness by the CJI in the administration of justice. They additionally said that they didn’t want the nation 20 years from now to feel that they had “sold their souls”.

The conference majorly highlighted the increasing rift between the Senior Judges and the CJI. Such a situation in the present scenario where there are a million controversial and landmark judgments which were given in the recent times and which are going to be reviewed will end up being questioned as they were given under the supervision of the current CJI, who is accused by the Senior Judges of being partial. The Adhaar card decision was opposed by Justice Chalameshwar. This is true and the linking of Adhaar has always been an issue of debate and also this was the same conclusion given by the committee appointed to look into the privacy matters when it comes to the draft policy on data.

We’ve been disappointed more often than not with the happenings of the Government and the Judiciary. There are a few people who also argue that when this took place the judiciary that is supposed to serve as a cornerstone to solidarity and justice has taken a downward spiral when it brazenly displayed disparities within itself. In my opinion, no rational or prudent person would have or will ever have such a utopic idea about one of the most hypocritical concepts that have ever sustained existence. The “fact” that an institution has disparities is but human and not news that has the shock factor it claims to have with it.

The four Judges were absolutely right when they took media as a platform to inform about the issue. The constitution has democracy as a concept enshrined in it. When the Judges informed them about the dangers which lie ahead to the public, they were well acting within their rights. If there is no democracy, there is no Constitution and no constitutional democracy. Needless to say, that independence and impartiality form the basic structure of the Constitution. A strong and united judiciary is the sine qua non for a strong and vibrant democracy. If the judiciary of a country is divided and polarized, it will have a direct effect on the very survival of democracy in that country.

Nobody is still aware of the reasons behind such a drastic step taken by the Senior Judges. The correctness can still be questioned and the issues should be sorted in a way they are supposed to be.  The general public being completely unaware of the internal discrepancies will form its opinion on the matter and deal with it differently; such a thought process once initiated will definitely raise questions on the stability of the Judiciary.

[1] http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/should-the-four-sc-judges-have-dissented-publicly/article22466399.ece


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deepa Karanam

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Deepa Karanam is currently a third-year student at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. She is currently working as the president of the Legal Aid Centre at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. Social work and charity is something she always looks up to, and the famous JFK saying going by ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ fascinates her to keep going and never wait for anybody to bring about a change in the society. An aspiring bureaucrat, her pass time has always been music because of its healing power.

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