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Long delay in listing 'live issues' like demonetisation, Article 370 affect quality of justice: Ex-SC judge Madan Lokur

Justice Lokur also referred to the case of former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid, who recently withdrew his bail plea from the apex court in a case lodged against him under anti-terror law UAPA over his alleged involvement in the conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020.
Last Updated 24 February 2024, 14:29 IST

New Delhi: Prolonged delay in listing of "live issues" like matters pertaining to demonetisation and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, and predictable pronouncements affect the quality of justice and create a perception that there is "something wrong" with the judicial system, former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur said on Saturday.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) here, he said the problem with listing of cases is not something new and has been there for a very long time, particularly in the Supreme Court.

"But today we are talking about it because the stakes today are much higher than what they were many years ago," Justice Lokur said while addressing the seminar's first session titled Supreme Court Administration and Management- Issues and Concerns.

He said matters like demonetisation, Article 370, and electoral bonds for political funding were listed in the apex court for hearing after many years.

"We have had issues pertaining to demonetisation listed after I think four or five years. We have had issues related to electoral bonds listed after five years," he said.

The former apex court judge, who retired on December 30, 2018, said there were instances where in matters of liberty one knew exactly what was going to happen.

"Today, the perception is, you know if a case goes before a particular bench this is going to be the result," Justice Lokur said.

He also spoke about the way cases were listed and where they were listed.

"So, you would have a situation where somebody, a journalist, wants bail. The case is listed the same day, maybe in the evening. Somebody has been granted bail and the prosecution says the grant of bail by the high court is wrong. So, a special bench sits on a Saturday and stays that order which is very, very unusual," he said.

"So, the timing of listing of case is very, very important in some instances," the former SC judge said.

Justice Lokur also referred to the case of former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid, who recently withdrew his bail plea from the apex court in a case lodged against him under anti-terror law UAPA over his alleged involvement in the conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020.

"Not listed for a long time,13 adjournments. Ultimately, the lawyer said we want to withdraw the case. Why?" he said, adding Khalid's lawyer knew what the result was going to be.

"So, these are issues which are live and which are affecting the quality of justice and that is why there is this perception going around that listen, there is something wrong," Justice Lokur said.

He said getting bail in cases lodged under the UAPA and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has almost become impossible.

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(Published 24 February 2024, 14:29 IST)

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