Supreme Court of India has witnessed a series of attack by the ultra-left in the last few years. Most of these disruptors are without any electoral base or Populus support. They have however managed to nourish their presence in digital media and academia. Their belief is based on Marxian Philosophy of dismantling the judiciary from within under the veil of freedom of speech and expression.
The Supersession of Judges
In 1970s we have witnessed supersession of judges and intimidation of courts. Justice Ray’s appointment by the then Indira Gandhi Government, superseding three senior judges of the top court -Justices JM Shelat, A N Grover and K S Hegde, was a lethal attack on the independence of the judiciary. The left era was coupled with appointment of politically and ideologically inclined judges in courts. This exercise was put to rest after the 1993 judgement in the second judges’ case when the supreme court (7-2) overruled the First Judges Case, holding that when there arise conflict between the President and the Chief Justice of India with regard to appointments of Judges, it was the Chief Justice of India whose opinion would not only have primacy, but would be determinative in the matter.
The 1993 verdict also gave rise to Collegium system initially with the two most-senior judges after the Chief Justice of India in the Supreme Court when it comes to appointing Supreme Court judges; the two most senior judges of the respective High Court when it comes to appointing judges to that particular High Court. In third judges’ case (1998) Supreme Court reaffirmed its 1993 judgement and expanded the Collegium to include the Chief Justice of India and the four most-senior judges of the court after the Chief Justice of India.
The Ayodhya Verdict
The institutional disruptors have found their coexistence with the members of Bar who subscribe to their wile ideology. They go public and carry on vested social media campaigns against the judges of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice of India groundlessly and without any hesitation of their own contemptuous behaviours once they fail to get a favourable order. Their behaviour is outrageous to the extent that in Ayodhya hearing the lobby threatened the Judge to walk out which was unprecedented but today a reality.
The Power of Contempt
A judge is never in a popularity race as he is bound by the constitutional oath. They don’t have an electoral support as enjoyed by the members of civil society. They are judged every day in the course of their personal and official acts. Ironically the ones who claim to be champions of human rights themselves allege unsubstantiated allegations to pull down the mightiness of the Judges of Supreme Court of India and Chief Justice of India. The power of contempt doesn’t undermine the freedom of speech of an individual. It is meant to enable the courts to protect their dignity and to further the task of dispensing justice fearlessly.
The Contempt of Courts Act, 1976 and Article 129 of the Constitution of India provides statutory recognition. The contempt of court can either be civil or criminal. Supreme Court landmark decision in Brahma Prakash Sharma and Others vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh 1953 wherein the object of contempt proceedings is held not to afford protection to judges as individuals. Rather, it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected. The conduct of any person should not lower the authority of the court and sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice. The liberal attitude of the Courts to impose symbolic fines has only bolstered the lobby spirits.
India has witnessed the habit of ultra-left to speak venom against Judges when the courts choose to averse with their arguments. In the fall, they use the weapon of intimidation to discredit and dismantle the Judges of Supreme Court. Frequent attempts were made in the past by parliamentarians by signing motion of Impeachment. The glaring example of unprecedented personal attacks on Justices Dipak Misra, Arun Mishra and the then CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi shows their attitude in relation to the judicial independence. Left‐wing campaigns to eliminate judicial independence , ‘Petitioner Activists’ want to seize control of the judiciary by means fair or foul and turn judges into submissive accomplices. It is about time that we protect and safeguard Judiciary from the lobby fabricating falsehoods to ensure not just the judiciary but also control of the judiciary is shared equitably rather than a weapon for one side or the other.
Advocate at Lucknow High Court