The Supreme Court on Wednesday decried the practice among lawyers to criticise judges in the media and give political colours to their judgements, which is “nothing less than the gravest form of contempt.”
“Whenever any political matter comes to the court and is decided, either way, political insinuations are attributed by unscrupulous persons/advocates. Such acts are nothing, but an act of denigrating the judiciary itself and destroys the faith of the common man which he reposes in the judicial system,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran said.
The court said that unfortunately, some advocates feel that they are above the Bar Council due to its inaction and they are the only champion of the causes.
Justice Mishra has himself been in the eye of storm as activist lawyers targeted him for various cases having far reaching consequences were marked to him for adjudication, including Justice B H Loya death case. He had recused from hearing the judge Loya case after four senior-most judges, including present CJI Ranjan Gogoi, addressed a press conference on January 12, 2018 protesting against sending cases to select benches.
“It is unfortunate without any rationale basis the independence of the system is being sought to be protected by those who should keep aloof from it. Independence of each system is to come from within. If things are permitted to be settled by resorting to the unscrupulous means and the institution is maligned by creating pressure of any kind, the very independence of the system would be endangered. Cases cannot be decided by media trial,” Justice Mishra in a 73-page judgement.
The top court quashed the Madras High Court rules on a writ petition by advocate R Muthukrishnan, which allowed the principal district judge to debar a lawyer from appearing in courts on misconduct like taking money in the name of judge, browbeating or abusing the judge.
The court said the circumstances may be grim, but the autonomy of the Bar Council in the disciplinary matters cannot be taken over by the courts.
“Fair criticism of judgment and its analysis is permissible. Lawyers' fearlessness in court, independence, uprightness, honesty, equality are the virtues which cannot be sacrificed,” the court said.
However, the court said, it was not open to wash its dirty linen in public and enter in accusation and debates, which tactics were being adopted by unscrupulous elements to influence the judgments and even to deny justice with ulterior motives.