NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 18: The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, an NGO, has expressed serious concern over the functioning of the Supreme Court, questioning its approach to issues that it says has raised doubts in the minds of the average citizen about its independence and neutrality.
It pointed to the Court’s response to Uttar Pradesh Minister Mukut Bihari Verma’s statement that the Supreme Court would decide the Ayodhya dispute in a particular way. The NGO also brought up the unusual transfer of Madras High Court Chief Justice Vijaya Tahilramani.
Responding to the BJP leader’s purported statement that “the Supreme Court is ours”, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, heading the Constitution Bench on Ayodhya, had said last week: “We deprecate such statements…. such behaviour is to be condemned….”
The CJAR said on Tuesday it had noted “with concern the Supreme Court’s inadequate response to Uttar Pradesh Minister Mukut Bihari Verma’s statement claiming that the Supreme Court is going to decide the Ayodhya case in a certain way”.
“This statement has raised doubts in the minds of average citizens about the independence and neutrality of the Court, given the wide coverage it has received, and a strong institutional response was needed. However, the verbal observation of the Court during the Ayodhya case has fallen far short,” the NGO said.
“More so, when the Court was very quick to issue contempt notice to a political leader belonging to the Opposition for misquoting its judgment in the Rafale papers case,” it added.
The Supreme Court had issued a formal contempt notice against Rahul Gandhi even after the Congress leader expressed regret for unfortunately juxtaposing, in the heat of the poll campaign, the “chowkidar chor hai” slogan while citing the Court’s ruling on the Rafale review petitions.
The CJAR brought up the unusual transfer of Chief Justice Tahilramani from one of the country’s biggest High Courts to one of its smallest, and asked why the collegium was not disclosing the reason. The Judge resigned after her transfer from Madras High Court to Meghalaya High Court.
“At a time when the public’s confidence in the judiciary has been low, this transfer which, on the face of it, seems punitive has lowered it further. It is incumbent upon the collegium to make clear the reasons for such transfer and dispel any doubts about its independence and fairness. Refusing to do so serves no institutional purpose and instead weakens the institution of the judiciary by making it less transparent,” the NGO said.
On September 12, the collegium had issued a statement saying it would have “no hesitation” in disclosing the reasons for the transfer of certain High Court Chief Justices/Judges after a section of the Bar issued statements criticising the transfers. However, it has yet to reveal the reasons.
“We call upon the Supreme Court to restore the faith of the people in the institution of the judiciary by immediately disclosing the reasons for transfer of High Court Judges and resolving to disclose detailed reasons for all transfers in the future,” the CJAR said.
The CJAR has among its members former Supreme Court Judge Justice PB Sawant, former Bombay High Court Judge Justice H Suresh, Jurist Shanti Bhushan, his son and lawyer Prashant Bhushan and civil liberties lawyer Kamini Jaiswal. (Courtesy: TT)