By Prarthana Mitra
It is easy to criticise, attack and destroy a system which has only begun to perform what it preaches, said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, after a year of courting dissent from within the Supreme Court judiciary. What’s difficult is working in silence towards constructing a performing judicial machinery. Let words make the noise, he said.
Backdrop of the comments
On Wednesday, Misra broke silence on the recent criticism of the judiciary from within and outside. He purported that the Opposition and certain senior judges were in cahoots to muddy the image of the apex court and what it stood for.
In January, a press meet was convened by senior judges – Justices (now retired) J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph to discuss and put their weight behind the Opposition’s motion to impeach Misra. It was the first time in the history of the apex court that such a press meet was called for, with the singular motive to accuse recent Chief Justices of India of “selective” allocation of cases to certain judges.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Misra, during a subsequent discussion, clarified that the Chief Justice of India’s role as the master of the roster served to preserve the court’s impartial role and from devolving into “anarchy”.
On July 12, Justice Gogoi in his keynote address at an event said that “noisy judges and independent journalists are democracy’s first line of defence and a revolution, not mere reform, is needed to keep the institution of the judiciary responsive to the changes in society.” Misra on Wednesday countered this with a call for “concrete reforms…undertaken with rationality, maturity, responsibility and composure…to be productive instead of being counter-productive”.
“To criticise, attack and destroy the system is quite easy what is difficult and challenging is to transform it into a performing one. For that one has to transcend one’s personal ambitions or grievances rather constructive steps need to be taken with positive mindset,” Chief Justice Misra said in his Independence Day address, refusing to identify with people or elements bent on weakening the institution.
On the PIL issue
In April, the Supreme Court observed that verbal assault was aimed at the judiciary, from certain parliamentarians and the media, while hearing a PIL filed by an independent organisation called ‘In Pursuit of Justice’. The petition accused them of demeaning, damaging and risking the independence of the judiciary over the sudden impeachment motion to remove Misra.
In his rousing speech, he obliquely mentioned elements who may endeavour to weaken the institution. “But we refuse, you and I all together, to succumb to them… We have to serve the lady of justice, the queen of justice. She holds the scales of justice, symbolising that the act of delivering and imparting justice has to be balanced as far as possible and that is the basic essence of justice. Anyone who tries to create any kind of dent in that balance is hurting the queen of justice,” he said.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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