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People are saying so many things against me, judges have rights too: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma after being trolled online over ruling on Arvind Kejriwal

"I want someone to talk about the rights of the judges also. This is a new issue. Judges don't have PR offices that someone will speak for them about whatever nonsense is spoken about them," she charged after considering the facts of the case as well as the ED's assertions that these instructions would discourage judges who hear the agency's matters.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a plea challenging the transfer of the Bhushan Steel money laundering case from a judge who stated, “ED matters main kaun si bail hoti hai (Where is the question of bail in ED matters),” reported Bar and Bench. The Delhi High Court reserved its decision on 22nd May. Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma observed that judges lack public relations (PR) representatives to speak up for them and refute the lies about them.

“I want someone to talk about the rights of the judges also. This is a new issue. Judges don’t have PR offices that someone will speak for them about whatever nonsense is spoken about them,” she charged after considering the facts of the case as well as the ED’s assertions that these instructions would discourage judges who hear the agency’s matters.

According to the court, a judge is impacted when a case is transferred from them and could leave the district judiciary demoralised. “Being a judge for 32 years, people have been saying so many things against me after I passed orders in the last few weeks. Sab kuch bola bhi to nahi saktey hain na (We cannot say everything here). These orders (of transfer) get published everywhere. What effect does it have on the judge,” the court pointed out. Justice Sharma declared that she would be issuing a comprehensive order but she had not made up her decision as of yet.

Background of the matter

Special Judge (Prevention of Corruption Act) Jagdish Kumar who was hearing the case was replaced by Special Judge (Prevention of Corruption Act) Mukesh Kumar. The accused Ajay S. Mittal entered a plea, and on 1st May 1, the District & Sessions Judge at Rouse Avenue Court authorized the transfer. The hearing for Mittal’s bail request was scheduled for 10th April before Judge Jagdish Kumar. The matter was postponed until 25th April after the attorney requested more time to prepare for the arguments on the set date.

As the counsel left the courtroom, Mittal’s wife who is also a defendant in the case, overheard the judge addressing the court employees, “Lene do date, ED matters main kaun si bail hoti hai (let them keep taking dates, where is the question of bail in ED cases).” The District Judge accepted the motion and maintained that it was not feasible to establish that Mittal was incorrect or misguided in believing that the judge was biased in favour of the ED. The High Court was moved by the agency following the judge’s transfer.

When Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain represented the ED, he contended that the case was transferred based only on an affidavit that the accused’s wife had filed. He pointed out, “Ek zara bhi proof nahi diya hai unhone (They have not given even a speck of proof).” The agency mentioned that the claims could not be regarded as gospel truth and that none of the lawyers representing any side had heard the judge’s statement.

He highlighted, “We were there. The counsel for the other side was also there. No one has supported the allegations. Only on the word of the lady, the matter get transferred. This will have a deleterious effect. Any person who does not want their matter heard by a particular judge will make bald, substantiated allegations and get his matter transferred. It amounts to forum shopping. This is a classic case of forum shopping. They took repeated adjournments before the previous judge.”

He observed that the judge from whom the case was transferred is a Special Judge who oversees Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) and ED cases and is based at Rouse Avenue Court. He added, “Such a transfer will raise questions about his competence to handle any ED case.” Senior Attorney Sandeep Sethi, who was representing Mittal at the time, alleged that the transfer order was an administrative one. Mittal’s wife heard the comment, per him, and she swore an affidavit to that effect.

He claimed, “She did not make any allegation earlier. We are not choosing any court. We are not saying please transfer this case to a particular judge.” The senior advocate submitted that there is no alternative means of confirming the validity of the judge’s statement. “This is a very serious issue for us. We have all heard the phrase, justice should not only be done but it should appear to have been done.” The intricate problems of case administration, judicial integrity and the effects of administrative transfers within the judiciary will all be covered in Justice Sharma’s reserved decision.

Justice Sharma faces online trolling

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma faced a lot of criticism, especially from the Aam Aadmi Party and its ecosystem for her ruling against the party’s national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who claimed her to be biased and pro-Bharatiya Janata Party while creating false equivalences. A person charged, “How high court judge Swarna Kanta Sharma is giving discriminatory judgements. The case of Dilip Ray whose sentence was stayed because he had to contest elections on behalf of the BJP is a living example of it,” with a video of Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj.

Another AAP supporter slammed her for allegedly “delaying the proceeding” over a “procedural point raised by BJP (ED),” implying that both the justice and the agency are working at the behest of the saffron party.

Roshan Rai, an avid I.N.D.I. Alliance supporters referred to the judge as someone installed by the BJP and alleged, “Read the judgement by Swarna Kanta Sharma while dismissing Arvind Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest. You won’t be able to figure out if it is a BJP spokesperson speaking or a Judge of the Delhi High Court.”

Similar remarks were made by a user, who characterized her as being partial toward the BJP while comparing the bail petition of Dilip Ray and Sanjay Singh. “Delhi HC Judge Swarna Kanta Sharma granted Dilip Ray instant relief, staying his conviction. Ray, a BJP candidate, is now allowed to contest. The same judge whose bail denial for Sanjay Singh was overturned by SC. Also handled Kejriwal’s arrest challenge, stopping short of conviction.”

One AAP supporter even called her a stain on the legal system and claimed, “Swarana Kanta Sharma is a blot on the judiciary. She does not understand the pain of jail and giving dates like SBI (State Bank of India).”

The analogous sentiment could be seen in other comments shared by AAP supporters, who blamed the judge for being prejudiced against the party while benefiting the BJP.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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