PRES­SURES ON JUDGES

Jus­tice Kurian Joseph’s dis­clo­sures im­me­di­ately after re­tire­ment touch upon the in­tegrity and in­de­pen­dence of judges of the Supreme Court.

FrontLine - - ESSAY - BY

A.G. NOORANI

THE Bar, the me­dia and the pub­lic have been re­miss in ne­glect­ing to no­tice the very grave im­pli­ca­tions of the re­marks, made in suc­ces­sive press in­ter­views, by Jus­tice Kurian Joseph im­me­di­ately after re­tir­ing as judge of the Supreme Court. He ren­dered high ser­vice by speak­ing as he did. It is un­for­tu­nate that the re­sponse has been a poor one. His state­ments touch upon the in­tegrity and in­de­pen­dence of judges of the Supreme Court.

On De­cem­ber 2, 2018, he re­ferred to “starkly per­cep­ti­ble signs of in­flu­ence with re­gard to al­lo­ca­tion of cases to dif­fer­ent benches se­lec­tively, to select judges who were per­ceived to be po­lit­i­cally bi­ased ”( The Times of In­dia, De­cem­ber 3, 2018; em­pha­sis added, through­out). Two points de­serve note: one con­cerns the re­tired Chief Jus­tice of In­dia (CJI) Di­pak Misra; the other is his as­sign­ment of cases “se­lec­tively to select judges who were per­ceived to be po­lit­i­cally bi­ased”.

The next day, he re­peated both points. “We made it clear to Jus­tice Misra that the de­ci­sions that he was tak­ing don’t seem to be in­de­pen­dent. There was no pos­i­tive re­sponse at all to what we told him or asked him. He kept al­lot­ting cases se­lec­tively to se­lec­tive judges with po­lit­i­cal bias ”( Hin­dus­tan Times, De­cem­ber 4, 2018). Who were they? We need to know.

Mark his pre­ci­sion of lan­guage—“al­lo­ca­tion of cases... se­lec­tively to select judges who were per­ceived to be po­lit­i­cally bi­ased”. This was re­peated the next day. “He kept al­lot­ting cases se­lec­tively to se­lec­tive judges with po­lit­i­cal bias.” It is un­fair to pick on any­one at ran­dom. But it is right and proper to ask why Jus­tices Dhanan­jaya Y. Chan­drachud and A.M. Khan­wilkar who sat with CJI Di­pak Misra for long did not re­cuse them­selves. They knew that the CJI was un­der a cloud, knew

FOR­MER CHIEF JUS­TICE OF IN­DIA De­cem­ber 3.Di­pak Misra (right) with Jus­tice Kurian Joseph at a func­tion in New Delhi on

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