Days after the Supreme court found senior advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt, a group of 103 intellectuals including former High Court judges, retired IAS, IPS, and army officers have condemned the statement made by ‘Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR)’ wherein they had criticised the judgment and sought ‘reconsideration’ of the verdict.
Earlier, the apex court observed that the insinuation by Bhushan is not an attack against an individual but on the institution itself. The CJAR had made comments in support of Bhushan and had condemned the SC judgement.
Group exposes ‘hidden political’ agenda of CJAR
The dignitaries who condemned the CJAR statement made on August 15 included the likes of former Chief Justice of the Mumbai High Court Justice KR Vyas, former Foreign Secretary Amar Sinha, former Chief Secretary of Punjab Sarvesh Kaushal and others. The group accused the CJAR of claiming themselves to be the sole representatives of the civil society or the only custodians of the Constitution and democracy. The dignitaries objected to the said group with ‘hidden political agendas’ to use opportunities such as the contempt case against Prashant Bhushan to hurt Indian democratic institutions such as the Parliament, Election Commission of India, and the apex court as well.
Dignitaries highlight constitutional obligations of Prashant Bhushan
The group further noted, “This is not the first occasion when he has made utterances which were inflammatory in nature. CJAR counts, among its community Prashant Bhushan himself, apart from a few others, such as Arundhati Roy, etc, which shows that they are working on an agenda that you plead their own cause extra-judicially.” The signatories emphasised that the legal profession is a serious occupation with professional, constitutional, and ethical obligations. ” Any violations of the principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable,” they argued.
Group opposes ‘pseudo activism’ in the name of civil society
Highlighting the case of Morris versus Crown office, the group quoted Lord Dennings to emphasise, “The course of justice must not be deflected or interfered with. Those who strike at it strike at the very foundations of our society. They concluded, “The statements issued by the CJAR and a few other pressure groups condemning the judgment of the Supreme Court deciding the process of judgment delivery are highly objectionable and unacceptable. We, the concerned citizens, unequivocally oppose such pseudo activism hidden in the garb of the civil society.”
700 lawyers write to SC supporting verdict against Prashant Bhushan
Earlier, 700 lawyers had written a letter, addressed to the Chief Justice of India, and said, “India has witnessed a series of attacks by institutional disruptors against judges who are unwilling to agree with them and toe the line drawn by them. It is unfortunate that when political ends of lawyers are not served by a decision of the court, they vilify the court by making scandalising remarks.” They added, “The Supreme Court of India, as well as the judges, are subject to both scurrilous language, malicious attack and scandalising remarks.”
In the letter, the lawyers also stated that if the judiciary is to perform its duties and functions effectively, it is essential to protect the dignity and authority of the courts. The lawyers’ letter also stated that statements by these disruptors, such as “Supreme Court is killing the constitution” have the tendency to destroy the people’s faith in the judiciary.