CJI, restore integrity, independence of SC

CJI, restore integrity, independence of SC

CJI, restore integrity, independence of SC

The unprecedented action of the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court voicing public criticism of the functioning of the court, especially the conduct of the Chief justice of India (CJI), has serious implications for the administration of justice in the country. It does not help to only blame the judges who held the press conference. They are experienced enough to know the meaning of their action, and said with conviction that they had overriding considerations that went to the heart of the justice delivery system. It is unfortunate that they had to resort to a public airing of their grievances because the CJI, Justice Dipak Misra, persistently refused to address them. That is clear from what they said and from the letter they wrote to the CJI. The judges felt there was no other option for them as the issues they wanted to highlight are too important to be brushed under the carpet.  

The issues concern the integrity of the court, the independence of the judiciary and the need for and the ability of the court to withstand pressure from the executive. Some of the actions of the CJI were obviously found wrong and wanting in this respect. In their letter, the judges pointed out that "cases having far-reaching consequences had been assigned by the CJI selectively to benches "of their preference''. Sensitive matters were assigned only to a select few benches and the senior-most judges were excluded. Cases were taken out halfway through the hearing and assigned to another bench. The CJI even heard a case in which he was said to have a conflict of interest. The CJI, being the master of the roster, certainly has the prerogative to assign cases but the power must be exercised fairly and judiciously. The letter has also alleged interference with the finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on the appointment of judges and questioned why the issue has been reopened when a constitution bench has already settled it.

In some cases where the CJI's actions and decisions have been questioned, the government or the ruling party and its members or views on certain matters seem to have benefitted or might benefit. This is a matter of concern because the integrity and independence of the court and public faith in the judiciary are at stake. The judges put it rightly when they said that "unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive''. The issues raised by the judges have to be resolved by the judiciary only, without interference or guidance from outside. The court must recover from this moment of crisis, correct itself, and repair the damage it has suffered.  

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)