Threat to judiciary's independence

Threat to judiciary's independence

The issues raised by Justice Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, in a recent letter to the Chief Justice of India are important for the preservation of judicial independence, especially the independence of the country's higher courts. Justice Chelameswar has sent copies of his letter to all other judges of the court and wants a full meeting on the judicial side to discuss the issues he has raised. In the first place, the letter shows that the differences within the Supreme Court, highlighted by the demands made by four judges, including Justice Chelameswar, at a press conference on  January 12, continue, though that is not the theme now. The more important point is the criticism it makes of the government's attitude to the judiciary, of the working of the higher courts and of the changing relations between the executive and the judiciary. It has made this criticism in the context of the government's stonewalling of the Supreme Court collegium's recommendation for appointment of a judge, its wrong actions in the matter and the compliance of the Karnataka chief justice with these actions.  

The letter has questioned the probe initiated by the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Dinesh Maheswari against a district and sessions judge Krishna Bhat at the instance of the central government, though the collegium had recommended his elevation twice. The collegium itself had gotten the judge probed and a former chief justice of the high court had found the charges against Bhat unfounded. But the government bypassed the Supreme Court to seek another investigation into the charges. Justice Maheswari acted wrongly by accepting the demand for an enquiry from the government. High courts should not entertain such requests or demands from governments. They should take instructions only from the SC. It is especially bad if the investigation seeks to override an earlier investigation by the high court.  

Some explanations purportedly coming from the government that the earlier investigation was not properly done and did not follow the guidelines laid down are not convincing. Justice Chelameswar has rightly identified the issues which have a bearing on the independence of the judiciary and used strong words to describe them. Courts should not do the bidding of the government and there should be a healthy distance rather than "bonhomie" between the judiciary and the executive. He has seen increasing government interference in judicial matters and presents even a bleak picture in future of the government telling the courts what orders are to be passed. Democracy will be in danger if important organs of state meddle in each other's functioning and try to dictate to each other. Justice Chelameswar has flagged that danger in clear terms.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry