Chai-Samosa in SC and Leave for HC Judge

When Justice Kurian Joseph walked in to attend the launch of SCBA Times, a newsletter by the Supreme Court Bar Association, all eyes hovered around the venue to find Justice(s) Chelameshwar, Gogoi and Arun Mishra.

While Justice Kurian Joseph and MB Lokur were present, the Chief Justice had the occasion to shake hands with them and spend some leisurely moments with the Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and CJI Dipak Misra.

In another development, the Lucknow High Court Judge, Shri Narayan Shukla, was sanctioned a leave for 90 days. The judge had been found guilty of passing favourable orders while deciding the GCRG Medical College case, which was also similar to that of the Prasad Institute case.

While the Prasad Institute case, saw the CBI putting up the name of Judge Shukla as an accused, which was denied by the CJI, the act to set the house in order has been already done.

While Judge Shukla is on leave, and will not be assume office again most likely, the impasse at the Supreme Court which followed after the press conference on 12th of January, 2018, may not have cooled down.

The media might be rushing over to click shots of Justice Dipak Misra and Lokur, and Joseph enjoying the high tea at the event, the absence of Justice Chelameshwar, Gogoi and Arun Mishra has something sufficient to say.

While the Supreme Court judges have been functioning normally, there is no further comment from any  of the  judges involved in the impasse. While the public onslaught of the judiciary has been afforded no explanations yet, there is only one incident whereby the judiciary may declare that the impasse is resolved.

The issue of favourable allotment of cases, and deeper alleged irregularities have not been discussed in the public domain, but the overall equation between the CJI and the other judges does not seem to have settled on a pleasant note.

Justice Chelameshwar was learnt to have openly declared that he will not be vying for any future assignments from the government as he is to retire this year. This signaled his reservations about some events which he is possibly  not able to share nor resolve.

The impasse though may have settled for now, and the judges trying to undo the doing, yet there is a possibility that not just because of personal issues something had to blow out of proportions.

The SCBA Times, is another opinion builder that will voice the  Bar, and the Bench may  also communicate within the community and seek to address all the issue that need to be addressed.

While the judges enjoyed their chai and samosa, the media took turns to frame the judges and the law minister together, which is more than enough for the aam aadmi to believe ‘all is well’.


Administering the Supreme Court Through the Media

As four senior judges of the Supreme Court coming out through a press conference against the Supreme Court of India, the entire legal fraternity as well as the people have been thrown into a frenzy.

Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M.B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, Justice J Chelameswar, today appeared before the national media today and allegedly broke their silence over the fact that the incumbent Chief Justice of India is one who is not discharging his duties with the due diligence required.

The further call has been that the democracy is being led into danger.

The responses coming in from over the various quarters are falling in every spectrum of morality, while the justices urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter urgently.

If there existed some apprehensions of this, or if there were such appalling and urgent circumstances, the justices may have done it confidentially, as has been done on many innumerable occasions.

The direct impact that  the media exposure and the hovering possibilities of a media trial have led to demean the highest Court of the land. The tussle involved, has dented the overall trust that has been reposed in the judiciary by the people.

The direct allegation by the Senior Judges, has been that the CJI, is promoting s preferential allotment of cases, which is detrimental to natural justice.

The allegation, and the call, has such consequences, and the impact of the same may be felt in the days to come, with the Judiciary condemning or boycotting the proceedings emanating from the misinformation propaganda against the CJI.

The office of the CJI is one of the most influential offices in the country, and there has been one incident in the Prasad Medical College case, where Senior Advocate, Prashant Bhushan waived an FIR registered against the CJI in Orissa.

This incident took the CJI by alarm, and then he declared himself to be the last authority after the Registrar General of the Supreme Court, in the administrative side.

The allegations today, may have certain truth lying beneath these as the judges who pursued the trajectory, are known to be honest and responsible judges. The judges might have also tried to follow an in-house resolution system that possibly failed, while the judges’ who have take this extra measure will have to answer collectively not just to the institution, but also the nation.

It is also to be noted that yesterday the Supreme Collegium cleared the names of Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra and Judges KM Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court, while it cleared certain names for appointment to the High Court as well.

The Judges have also take note of the fact that they are not giving a political statement , but they are cautioning the nation. The caution also comes at a price of the reputation of the judiciary.

The matter is now in the public, and while the media trials are not allowed, the judges have submitted yet the entire judiciary to the trial by the media. Though the urgency and the veracity of the disclosure are not yet confirmed, but the damage has been done. And a fact finding will have to be commenced at  the earliest to bring the matter to truth.


Judicial Activism or Judicial Appropriation: CJI vs FM


In an event yesterday at the Supreme Court compound to commemorate the National Law Day, the CJI, Dipak Misra and Finance Minster, Arun Jaitley aided by Minister of State for Finance and Commerce PP Chaudhary exchanged words regarding judicial activism and transgressions by the judiciary.

The Government has recently been fighting good cases spanning key aspects of a citizen’s life, like privacy, freedom to marry, and a few more. The trend of Judiciary coming in conflict with the mandate of the Parliament isn’t new. It has continued for over generations, and has seen many deadlocks and Constitutional trickery, that sought to bypass the Supreme Court’s diktat.

The jibes that the two ministers took in are in a broad context, whereby thy seemed to be cautioning the Court of holding its righteous activism. The activism taken up by the Courts is not always abrupt and active, most of the times, the Courts take a passive route to set the legislative and executive machinery into action. It is not a rare possibility that in a country like India, administrative and legislative efficacy is a 100%, there are loopholes, which are plugged in, and certainly there are times when executive or the legislature transgress upon the fundamental rights of the citizens, at those moments the Courts being the guardians of the Constitution play an active role in undoing the doing.

There is obviously a boundary given the fact that there exists a separation of powers between the organs of the State, thereby creating ample of space for al of them to co-exist for the purpose of aiding each other in administering the country as a whole. The argument that the judiciary tries to ‘usurp’ legislative powers, is not a valid one, because the judiciary interprets the laws, and makes it fit  with the Constitutional mandate. Time and again the Supreme Court and the High Courts have held that they don’t wish to tread into the domain of policy making, yet when they give outlines for a change, they reflect the demands of the society, as law is as dynamic as a living organism.

The befitting reply given by the CJI is appreciated, yet the remarks by a man of the stature of Mr Arun Jaitley is totally uncalled for and when he says, how would the judges feel if someone presides over them to do their job, is obviously one reason why the MOP for appointment of judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court has been stuck.

The Government, this or any other will always want to the Judiciary on its back to gain absolute control over the affairs of the State, yet the judiciary remains a closed-door system, which does not allow interference from either the executive or the legislative.

The activism by the more learned Judges, and the lawyers of the High Court and Supreme Court is far more qualitative and reliable than the mandate of the Parliamentarians who do not seem to have the perspective of a common man, as they often tend to consume themselves with the ends justifying the means. This is clearly reflected by the goalpost shifting that we saw during the Demonetisation exercise and the delay caused when it was the time for remonetisation.

The judiciary has been guarding the democracy time and again, while absolutely not interfering with the spheres of the other two organs of the state, thus a statement alleging the Judges of wrongdoing in the name of activism, is condemned.

Speedy Justice is A Fundamental Right Order Recalled by SC!

The proverb, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is the essence of natural justice. The cornerstones of the third and the most important organ of the State, the Judiciary is the role it performs in enhancing the administrative efficacy of the State altogether. While the people during their intercourse with the law in motion come across certain anomalies what lies ahead when the Courts begin to delay justice to offenders on the pretext of lack of benches and judges?

The issues that hamper the effective delivery of justice start with the lack of Judges in the lower judiciary. The lower Judiciary also has a peculiar aspect to its powers which makes it the busiest Courts in the nation with a huge amount of cases pending trials, some at over initial stages. The actively contested cases then reach the High Courts. The High Courts on the other hand often act as a strainer which strains out cases lacking the substantial matters of legal adjudication and then the story becomes gloomy.

The overall scenario today, with not just the lower judiciary but as well as the Higher Judiciary stands in a ditch. The last time we had a CJ of India pitching for intervention from the Narendra Modi government was Justice TS Thakur. Justice Thakur even broke down at a public gathering citing his inability to be at the top yet being unable to trigger changes in the judiciary. He observed that against the sanctioned strength of 1079 judges in the High Courts, a full 478 posts remained vacant. This amounted to 44.3% of the posts lying vacant. Since 2015 the SC and the Central government have been engaged in a tug of war which was preceded by the NJAC Bill being sacked by the SC. The Court has also asked the central government to provide a draft memorandum of procedure, which has unfortunately not become a reality yet.

A bench opf Justices UU Lalit ad AK Goel had on October 27 given a veridct whereby specifying that speedy justice a fundamental right. This involved the wider application of the reforms being deployed in the Judiciary. But it seems that CJI Justice Dipak Misra’s ideas do not align themselves with the spirit of providing speedy justice,while he promotes international arbitration.

The case was of one convict who has spent over 11 years in prison and has not been able to get any redress from the High court of Jharkhand. The HC on its turn replied by saying that the convict is not the only one facing tough times but there are others who have faced a good amount of time in jails! The HC also added that due to lack of judges, there is not enough time to ensure speedy disposal of cases and the HC finds it tough to push through one particular case.

This is not just the case with one Court in our country. The author being associated with the Courts, has been a witness to many cases from the Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Maharashtra coming the Supreme Court seeking speedy disposal.

Even the SC is faced with a similar problem of ever increasing cases and a handful of judges! The solutions to this problem are multi-fold and not just one sided.

The e-Courts project has not been implemented fully yet, and the Indian legal databases have not been able to innovate on new technologies to make justice delivery technically assisted so as to reduce the burden of the judges.

There are certain cases where judges work overtime and take up pending disputes and a very notable step happened this summer when under the leadership of Justice Khehar, the SC judges took turns and addressed cases that were pending for long.

The recent judgement of the recall by the SC of the fundamental right to speedy justice is not the correct step, rather the approach has to be wide and holistic i delivering service to the nation.