Judge’s comments ignorant, offensive

Some comments made by Justice S R Sen, a judge of the Meghalaya High Court, on the nature of the Indian state, the country’s history and the laws were unnecessary and objectionable, and question the basics of the Constitution. In a judgement related to the entitlement of an army recruit to a domicile certificate, the judge expressed a range of opinions which did not have anything to do with the petition. He said India should have been declared a Hindu country because it was divided on the basis of religion and Pakistan became an Islamic country. There was also an ill-informed statement that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were one country ‘’commanded by Hindu kingdom’’ before the Mughals came. He also wants non-Muslim migrants from neighbouring countries to be given Indian citizenship and specifically called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ministers and MPs to frame a law for this. 

It is surprising that a high court judge made such ignorant and offensive comments in an open court and placed them on record in a manner unbecoming of his position. He certainly lacked judicial discipline and propriety. Many judges pass inappropriate comments by way of obiter dicta or even as part of their judgments. But Justice Sen’s case is much more serious because he has undermined his own position by questioning the secular basis of the Constitution. As a judge of the court he has to uphold and protect the Constitution, and has no right to declare what it should have been. He can test a law against the Constitution but should not tell the executive and the legislature to enact a law of his liking. He even made a direct appeal to the ‘’beloved’’ prime minister to enact the citizenship bill which is now caught in major legal and political controversies. 

Also read: CPM urges removal of Justice Sen from judicial duties

By openly revealing his political positions and bias, the judge has compromised his position and credibility. He will no longer be considered a fair-minded judge, especially when he has to deal with matters concerning religion and minority rights, because the views he has expressed are clearly those of the Hindu right. Even his history is all wrong. The Supreme Court should take note of the views expressed by him. It should ensure that judges do not lower the prestige and credibility of the judiciary by such comments. Last year, a judge of the Rajasthan High Court, M C Sharma, suggested that the cow should be made the country’s national animal. He also became a laughing stock by claiming that peacocks are celibate and do not have sex. One important question is how such judges are selected for their positions. 

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Judge’s comments ignorant, offensive

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