Justice AP Shah: India’s Judiciary becomes Cold-Spirited and Soullessby Opinion Express May 4, 2018 0 comments
At the launch of Arun Shourie’s new book – ‘Anita gets Bail’, AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, RM Lodha, former Chief Justice of India, and Fali Nariman, Senior Advocate argued the current judicial landscape.
The wheels of justice often grind slow. And that is the reason, Arun Shourie — a journalist, economist, author and former cabinet minister—has decided to take up the cudgels on behalf of the ordinary citizen by taking up the case of his wife. His new book, Anita gets Bail – What are our courts doing? What should we do about them? revolves around a false case against his wife Anita Shourie. The book was released in the presence of RM Lodha, former Chief Justice of India; AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court; Fali Nariman, Senior Advocate, and acclaimed journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.
Advocate Nariman quipped that Shourie writes a book almost every year but this book fulfills an important vacuum in public life. He added, “The provision for one appeal is a precaution, a provision for two appeals means panic and provision for multiple appeals means a complete lack of faith in the system.” Sardesai read excerpts from the book, after which Justice AP Shah spoke about the problems that the judiciary is currently facing and why this is the apt timing for Shourie’s book to release. “This book could not have come at a better time. Most of us are only too aware of what is happening and some of us talk about these things in hushed whispers or, occasionally, in loud voices. But Shourie has done what most of us have not. He has put pen to paper, and in his own distinctive style, and with remarkable flair, ‘called out’ the judiciary and those who staff the system.” He spoke about various problems such as a low judge-to-population ratio, a generally inadequate number of judges, poor infrastructure and an executive not entirely supportive of the judiciary. Justice Shah commented on some pressing issues like delay in the Bombay Blast case, the Bhopal Gas Leak case and the Jayalalitha Disproportionate Assets case to highlight the delay in getting justice in our country.
Shourie made a suggestion that the media houses can send correspondents to spend a day every month in a randomly selected lower court and report the happenings in those courts that day. It would help the general people to understand better as the state of justice in India today and he agreed with him. Justice Shah said that Shourie’s book draws attention to an array of uncomfortable questions. “I congratulate and thank him for having made us uneasy.”
Justice Lodha began by saying that the book mirrors how an open and shut case (referring to the case of Shourie’s wife) takes years to come to a conclusion. He also spoke about the independence of the judiciary and the leadership of Chief Justice Misra. “I want to talk about the present state of affairs where the independence of this judiciary is being challenged. As this is happening, the CJI and the Supreme Court are being brought into the domain….”
“…In the past few weeks, the Supreme Court has emphasised that the CJI is the master of the roster. Yes he is, there is no doubt about that. But can he do what he likes?…” added Justice Lodha. He called out the current phase of Supreme Court. “The phase that we are seeing today in the Supreme Court, to say the least, is disastrous. Collegiality must return. CJI is the leader and he should take everyone along with him.”
Justice Lodha emphasised that if what is happening in the Supreme Court is taken as a model by the High Courts, then the day is not far when the judicial system of the country will become chaotic. He concluded by praising the author, “Arun Shourie has done a yeoman’s service by giving us this book. It has shaken me. I feel sorry that I could not do much… Everyone has to work really hard for restoring the efficacy and credibility of the judiciary.”
The author addressed the audience at last and said that the judiciary is going through turbulent times. “It should not be perceived that I have a negative feeling towards the judiciary. It is only that, there is a well-planned assault on the judiciary not just by one person but by an entire ideology which is totalitarian and wants total control over the country.” Shourie said that the judiciary must thwart any attempts made against its independence. And the judiciary should never think that if an attempt has been thwarted once, the work is over. ‘They’ will come in a different way. He asserted,“We are being accustomed to a new normal. Children are being raped and the new deputy CM of Jammu and Kashmir says it is a small thing.”
He said, “if the present CJI Dipak Misra has to say repeatedly that he is the master of the roster … this already means that he has lost the moral authority.”
Shourie urged the senior lawyers present in the audience to directly discuss the situation with the Chief Justice of India and come up with ways by which it can be fixed.
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer