Unspoken and regrettable events in Judiciary
“This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
The independence of the judiciary is granted by the constitution to protect the rights of the citizens, but regrettably nowadays it is shielding the rights of the judges. One should not make fun of the judiciary, but what can we do when officers of Court acts like a satirist. In this article I will indicate several instances via which judges and lawyers themselves through their words and action invited massive criticism. It is very much evident that all the judges and advocates are not highly regarded, and have fine intellect, but still they pretend as if they are the only one having brain and acumen. Below are few instances where they acted unwisely while sitting on the chair.
Delhi HC apologizes for 34-paragraph copy-paste plagiarism: This was one of the most unfortunate incidents where Delhi High Court has found itself at the center of a plagiarism controversy as the judges are accused of plagiarizing more than 30 paragraphs in a decision from an article found in the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property. But when original author posted about it on Facebook, corrective action was issued by bench. The “corrective action” also placed the blame at the feet of an intern working for the judge. According to the action, it was draft content submitted by the intern that was incorporated into the judgment that caused the controversy.
When one of the Court of Delhi High Court was boycotted by Bar Association, once lawyers of the Delhi High Court Bar Association boycotted the Court of Justice.V.Mehta. It was alleged that the jury in this Court has a tendency of imposing costs on litigants on an unprecedented scale and his remarks in the court were loutish. The Delhi High Court Bar Association in order to boycott this court passed a resolution stating that they have taken this step of boycotting this court as all their earlier requests to the Chief Justice and other office-bearers of the executive committee have gone unnoticed and there is no sign of any carminative effect. Though Justice.V.Mehta is very respectable and proficient judge, but his attitude towards lawyers and clients sometime becomes incommodious.
Kith and kin of the Delhi High Court Judges repeatedly appointed as local commissioner: The Delhi High Court Bar Association drew the attention of the Hon’ble Chief Justice and Senior Judges of Delhi High Court in this regard but despite assurances, nothing significant happened in reality. It was witnessed by all young lawyers that Judges nears & dears were appointed as local commissioner over and over again, that number of LC’s and amount received by them was enormous. The perusal of the data shows that while some young members of the Bar have been accommodated but at the same time some members along with members with long standing and even some Senior Advocates have been repeatedly appointed as Local Commissioners, Court Commissioner, and Arbitrators.
One of the most classy and reputed Senior advocate’s slip of tongue while arguing before the Supreme Court: “One of the lowest points in the history of court”,Chandrachud J. on Sr. Vikas Singh’s ‘slip of tongue’. Senior Advocate Vikas Singh’s use of the word ‘bloody’ during the hearing in BCCI case had displeased the Court. Such repulsive lingo can never be expected from a senior lawyer of high competence. The entire legal fraternity was shocked and stunned by this attitude of Senior Advocate before Apex Court.
When Apex Court slapped a contempt of Court notice on retired Justice Markandey Katju in a courtroom where he once delivered verdicts: This was the first time in judicial history when former Supreme Court justice faced contempt proceedings. Well, this contempt notice was well reasoned and was sensible since Justice Katju in is blog has written something derogatory against sitting Justice of Apex Court. The opinions and statements of former Supreme Court Judge Mr.Katju are always loud and controversial and we young lawyers really fail to understand that why he continues to make such statements in public knowing the fact that this can disparage the image or harm the sentiments of a particular segment of society. Sometime statements of Justice Katju are really not worth reading. He is the one who once wished Katrina Kaif as president of India.
Justice CS Karnan’s contentious and controversial statements: “I’m ashamed to be born in India,” was the unanticipated assertion of a Justice CS Karnan in the Madras High Court. Justice CS Karnan believes that being judge from dalit community he was affronted and dishonored several times by his senior judges.
He had also published an open letter to the prime minister, naming twenty sitting and retired judges of High Court and Supreme Court, accusing them of corruption. The constitution bench of the Supreme Court brought Justice C.S. Karnan’s seven-year career to a halt now. Justice C.S.Karnan after being unrespectable to fellow and senior judges has left no stone unturned to mortify existing judicial mechanism. A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court has issued contempt notice against him. He has been pulled up by Apex Court for endlessly making deprecating comments against members of the judiciary.
In present scenario, judicial system needs some purification and refinement since citizens have started loosing faith in existing judicial mechanism
Allegations of sexual harassment against Judges of Higher Judiciary: Ashok Kumar Ganguly, the former Supreme Court judge stepped down as head of the West Bengal human rights commission in 2014 after a law intern accused him of sexually harassing her at a hotel room. A three- member Supreme Court panel indicted Ganguly for “unwelcome behaviour” and “conduct of sexual nature”, prompting his resignation. This was not the end, another graduate of NUJS Kolkata had alleged that she was also being sexually harassed by a then-sitting Supreme Court judge in 2011. Justice Swatanter Kumar was named as the alleged former judge by IBNLive. In this case also, petition was filed before Apex Court and notice was issued. Justice Swatanter Kumar now National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairman clarified before the Supreme Court that the sexual harassment charges against him by a law intern were part of a malicious conspiracy intended to damage his reputation.
In the same year, an Additional District and Sessions Judge in Gwalior has allegedly resigned in order to safeguard herself from sexual advances from sitting High Court Judge. In an appalling revelation, the female Judge has alleged being sexually harassed by her administrative Judge. She subsequently had to resign to safeguard her self-esteem. Ironically, this female Judge of Madhya Pradesh was heading the Vishaka committee against sexual harassment.
In February 2016, Karnataka High Court dismissed District Judge S.N. Hakeem on charges of sexual harassment, after the inquiry conducted against him concluded that he was making women employees watch pornographic videos and photos on his official laptop.
When Mr.Shamit Mukherjee had to resign as judge of the Delhi High Court: In 2003, Mr.Mukherjee had to resign because CBI had arrested him in the Delhi Development Authority land scam case. Mukherjee had been dealing with DDA cases during his tenure and various incongruities and inappropriateness were discovered in his working. The CBI has registered cases against Justice Mukherjee under sections of the Anti-corruption Act, 1988 and sections of the Criminal Procedure Code for criminal conspiracy. Following the allegations, Mukherjee resigned and was taken into custody by the CBI, a first in Indian legal history. He was later released on bail on medical grounds. In 2008, a Delhi court framed charges against Mukherjee and four others.
When bribe was accidentally delivered to another Judge: In 2008, a sum of Rs 15 lakh was delivered at the residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, then judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur immediately after looking this currency at her residence, reported the matter to the Chandigarh Police. After the investigation, it was found that the money was allegedly meant for Nirmal Yadav and was mistakenly sent to the residence of Nirmaljit Kaur due to confusion over their names. An FIR was registered against Yadav under the provisionsof the Prevention of Corruption Act.
When Justice Dinakaran who was recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court was summoned in disproportionate assets case by then CJI Balakrishnan who himself has faced this music after retirement: Justice P.D.Dinakaran was the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court, he was Karnataka High Court Chief Justice but facing impeachment in parliament following allegation of corruption, he was shifted to Sikkim. He was so stubborn that even when Supreme Court Collegium had asked Justice Dinakaran to proceed on leave, still he refused to do so and continued to do administrative work in Karnataka. . The Collegium thereafter recommended his transfer to the Government. In 2009, several members of the Bar Council of India alleged that Dinakaran has huge assets in his hometown. He had to resign in July 2011 following such serious allegations of corruption.
The debate on Corruption in the judiciary and the need to uproot it became the major concern when former Kolkata High Court judge Soumitra Sen became the first judge in the country to be impeached by the Rajya Sabha for misappropriation of funds in 2011. Thereafter, former CJI and then NHRC chairperson K. G. Balakrishnan faced allegations that his family members had amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. Till date nothing substantial has been done. There are very few cases in which appropriate proceeding under law has been initiated against judges despite the fact that in existing scenario corruption, favoritism and political influence on judiciary is at peak. The incidents like this has seriously damaged the credibility of the judiciary at this point of time.
Like old clocks, our judicial institutions need to be oiled, wound up and set to true time.” — Lord Woolf, Lord Chief Justice of England
There are various other episodes which has tried to tarnish the image of the judiciary, but due to paucity of time those unpleasant incidents are not being depicted herein. In present scenario, judicial system needs some purification and refinement since citizens have started loosing faith in existing judicial mechanism. There are mainly three pillars of democracy, namely legislative, executive and judiciary and bearing this in mind, it is an understandable fact that at any cost judicial system cannot be ignored and disregarded. But unfortunately, some of the officers of court pay no heed to this fact and think themselves to be over and above this judicial mechanism and under this influence they create such blunders. It’s high time to reconfigure our existing judicial hierarchy to overcome rising challenges before us. Urgent steps to restore confidence of the Indian people in the nation’s judiciary must be taken. The one who sits in big chair & holds the Court need to efficient, competent and respectful because the burden of delivery of Rule of Law falls on them. Judicial governance means that judges who are constitutionally entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the rights of citizens must also be seen to be persons of rectitude.