Monday, May 10, 2021
Home Opinions Unfounded prejudices shouldn’t be allowed to damage independence and esteem of the judiciary

Unfounded prejudices shouldn’t be allowed to damage independence and esteem of the judiciary

Mere allegations of prejudice and apprehension of bias against the committee probing the allegations against the Chief Justice of India, which had no personal interest in the matter cannot be a subject of criticism and judicial impropriety.

Independence of judiciary has been a hallmark of our constitution. The Hon’ble Supreme Court many a times has ruled that a judge should be given an atmosphere in which he can dispense the justice fearlessly and without any intimidation, to uphold the dignity of law. It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that Justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly seem to be done.

The nature of judicial function involves the performance of difficult and at times unpleasant tasks. I would like to quote the words of Justice Sanjeev Khanna, which he stated in his farewell speech, in full court reference that “sometimes there is no office as powerful as the judge and at the same time it is frightful and defenseless”.

The Chief Justice of India, at present, despite having all the qualities of a righteous judge is feeling defenseless and is facing unnecessary criticism, which is even reflected in an interview of Justice AP Shah, Former Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi, published in The Indian Express dated May 7, 2019. Justice Shah may have his own notions but certainly as a former judge, he would agree that institutions always function on certain basic rules and procedure.

In the event of any unpleasant situation, being faced by the institution or by a responsible person of that institution warranting set up of an inquiry, the Inquiry must be conducted within the four corners of the established and recognized rules.

Nevertheless, it is a fact that in-house inquiry, which looked into the allegations of a former Supreme Court employee comprised of the senior-most Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India after the Chief Justice, and two women judges namely Ms Justice Indira Banerjee and Ms Justice Indu Malhotra.

Any practicing lawyer who has appeared before Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee, will vouch for her impartiality, patience and integrity. All who have appeared in her court would agree that nobody in her court was condemned unheard. The same applies for the other Hon’ble Judge Ms. Justice Indu Malhotra. She was a leading practitioner in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and was designated as a Senior Advocate from the Supreme Court, which is a rare achievement for any Advocate. She also left her flourishing practice for serving the society, by accepting to be a judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The third member, Justice Bobde is in line to be the next Chief Justice of India and is known to be a strong and independent judge with unimpeachable integrity and merit.

Unfortunately, the former Supreme Court employee did not even spare the Hon’ble Judges of the above caliber, heaping reckless and unwarranted allegations against them in a manner similar to the allegations that were thrown on Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana, forcing him to recuse himself from the panel probing the charges of sexual harassment.

The legal fraternity would know that the inquiry against the sitting High Court and Supreme Court judges is contemplated under an in-house procedure which was recommended by a committee of five former Hon’ble judges, the prominent of all was Justice S.P. Bharucha. The said report of the committee was evolved and adopted by the full court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 15.12.1999. The objective was to give judges protection given the nature of their office and judicial functions which they dispense. Since 1999 no one has assailed or pointed out any lacunae in the procedure for setting up an inquiry and the working of the inquiry committee.

A perception is being created in the mind of the general public that the Complainant was not allowed to be represented and accompanied by a lawyer, the inquiry did not proceed in a judicious manner.

I may say that the inquiry into the allegations made by the Complainant was an inquiry of the truthfulness of the allegations and not on any point of law, and the best person to answer and apprise the committee of the alleged real events was the Complainant herself, in which no lawyer could be of any assistance. The committee had the detailed affidavit of the complainant and she had already supplied relevant material to the Hon’ble Supreme Court with her affidavit.

The affidavit and the material were duly considered by the inquiry committee as the newspaper reports clearly suggested that the complainant was called by the committee on different occasions. Her grievances cannot take a new shape with each passing day and if her version did not inspire any confidence, the committee is within its right to bring a quietus to the entire controversy. Merely because the report of the Inquiry committee has not gone in favour of the complainant, it does not mean that the whole system is against her.

It needs to be remembered that the principles of natural justice have many facets and there is no straight jacket formula for the same. The said principle has to be judged in the facts of every matter. The main objective of natural justice is that no person should be condemned unheard.

From the news reports I can gather that the former employee was given around six hours to present her allegations. If certain uneasy questions would have been asked by the Hon’ble Committee to her, which she could not answer and chose to walk away on unfounded grounds, it cannot constitute a breach of natural justice. The inquiry cannot be called an ex-parte inquiry when the Complainant has participated in the same and she was satisfied with the constitution of the committee, once Justice Ramana opted to withdraw himself for the committee.

Mere allegations of prejudice and apprehension of bias against the committee which had no personal interest in the matter cannot be a subject of criticism and judicial impropriety.

From the above, in my humble opinion the entire system cannot have any motive against a single person and sometimes there is a difference between what one perceives and what meets the eye.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Manish Vashisht
Manish Vashisht is a practicing lawyer at High Court of Delhi, since 1998. He had been a standing counsel for the State of Haryana, besides his private practice he is a Standing Counsel for Delhi Transport Corporation and Competition Commission of India. Views expressed in articles are entirely his.

Related Articles

Trending now

Hemkunt Foundation, Rana Ayyub and Jignesh Mevani: How Covid-19 fundraisers could possibly be violating FCRA laws

A deep dive into fundraisers for Covid relief with questionable management which may be violating FCRA laws.

Chinese state media Editor accuses Subramanian Swamy of being ‘ungrateful’ over ‘war on COVID’, it doesn’t go down well for him

Chinese state media Global Times Editor Hu Xijin on Sunday accused BJP leader Subramanian Swamy of being 'ungrateful' after he tweeted that India is...

Patanjali was the first Indian company to publish a research paper on the new Covid-19 drug approved by DCGI: Read details

Patanjali had published a research paper on use of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose for Covid-19 treatment in March 2020

West Bengal: BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta files a complaint with the police on targeted persecution of its party workers

Dasgupta in his complaint to the police mentioned on record the names of all 260 victims, some of whom have been unable to return home after the TMC goons unleashed violence post their victory in the state.

Netizens call out actor Sonu Sood’s claims of arranging for plasma, bed for COVID patients

After multiple media reports and social media posts on how Sonu Sood was helping out migrants go back home last year amid the nationwide lockdown, Sood had written an autobiography, 'I am no no messiah'.

Here is how The Lancet used dubious sources to blame Modi Govt for the Covid crisis

Following the abrogation of Article 370, The Lancet had issued a strong condemnation of the Indian Government.

Recently Popular

Meet AAP’s ‘Delhi ke Nirmata’: Who is Navneet Kalra, the businessman on the run after oxygen hoarding scandal was busted

Oxygen Concentrators have been found at Khan Chacha, Nege & Ju bar and Town Hall restaurants in Delhi, all owned by Navneet Kalra

Arvind Kejriwal govt expels 7 journalists from Whatsapp group after report critical of govt handling of oxygen crisis, senior journalists keep mum

The Arvind Kejriwal government has been the darling of the media for a long time but it seems to want absolute devotion

Comedian Sanket Bhosale who had featured in ad mocking Rahul Gandhi booked for violating Covid-19 norms in Punjab

A week after the vandalism by the Congress workers in Mumbai, the Congress-led Punjab government has now booked comedian Sanket Bhosale, the actor featured in the advertisement, on the pretext of violating Covid-19 regulations during his wedding.

‘Dominance of one religious group cannot prevent religious celebrations of other’, says Madras HC after local Muslims object to Hindu procession

The Madras High court concluded that similar acts of 'resistance' by other religious groups would result in loss of lives, destruction of properties, riots, religious fights and chaos.

Subramaniam Swamy calls S Jaishankar a ‘waiter’ and says he tested positive for COVID: Netizens fume, EAM clarifies

Subramanian Swamy stoked controversy after he targeted Dr S Jaishankar by referring to him as a 'waiter' and claiming he was COVID positive

Cricketer Irfan Pathan accused of extra-marital affair with cousin sister, girl’s in-laws allege fake dowry case

According husband of the woman, the relationship between his wife and Irfan Pathan goes back a long time ago and continues even now
- Advertisement -

 

Connect with us

254,876FansLike
540,595FollowersFollow
24,300SubscribersSubscribe