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"Shameless" effort to tarnish image of Justice Sikri, who agreed to oust CBI topcop

Justice AK Sikri
Counterview Desk
In a scathing attack on the "Indian media", especially the high profile news portal "The Print", former Supreme Court judge Makandey Katju has said in a Facebook post  that the story of the appointment of Supreme Court judge AK Sikri to a "plum post" is nothing but "shameless" sensationalism. Calling Justice Sikri "outstanding, totally upright, extremely competent and hard working judge", Katju adds, "Yet our mostly rotten and shameless media has sought to tarnish him in mud and ruin his reputation."
"The Print" story, titled "Justice Sikri, whose vote decided Alok Verma’s fate, gets Modi govt nod for plum posting", tried to link the Narendra Modi government's recent decision to nominate Justice Sikri to the vacant post of president/member in the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT) with his January 8 vote that proved crucial to the ouster of CBI director Alok Verma over corruption charges.
"The judge, second in seniority after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, will join the CSAT after his retirement as Supreme Court judge on 6 March", " "The Print" story said, adding, "The members of the prestigious tribunal are appointed for a four-year term, which may be renewed for one more term."
Justice Sikri's vote was important, since he was the third member of the high-level committee — apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the single-largest party in opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, both of whom had diametrically opposite views on Verma’s future in the CBI — asked to take the politically-sensitive decision by the Supreme Court.
"Justice Sikri had the same view as the government at the meeting, where Kharge gave a strong dissent note", the story argued, noting, "It is learnt that CJI Gogoi replied to the government in the affirmative after checking with Justice Sikri." Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote to CJI Gogoi last month, "apprising him of the External Affairs Ministry’s decision to nominate Justice Sikri to the coveted post and seeking his consent", it added.
The decision of the three-member panel to oust Verma from his post has attracted criticism, with former Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik, who was appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the preliminary probe by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) into complaints against Verma, questioning the same. Patnaik termed the decision of the Prime Minister-led selection committee “very, very hasty”, adding, “There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption”.
Meanwhile, following the media oucry, Justice Sikri has withdrawn his decision to be appointed as CSAT president/member.

Text of Katju's Facebook post:

Has the Indian media no shame?
While there are many crooked and corrupt officials and authorities in India, there are also some upright, hard working and competent ones.
It is the duty of the media to criticise and expose the former, but it is also its duty to protect and praise the latter.
Markandey Katju
But see how the media has behaved with Justice Sikri?
Here is an outstanding, totally upright, extremely competent and hard working judge, for which I can personally vouch as I was his Chief Justice in the Delhi High Court when he was a puisne judge in that Court, and I knew him intimately. Yet our mostly rotten and shameless media has sought to tarnish him in mud and ruin his reputation.
As Chief Justice of Delhi High Court I had not only to do judicial work but also a lot of administrative work, and so after finishing my judicial work at 4 pm. I had usually to remain in the Court till about 8 p.m. doing administrative work. On finishing that I would often enquire if any other judge was still in his chamber? Invariably I was told that Justice Sikri was still there preparing his judgments, which he would do meticulously. I would go to his chamber and ask him to go home and not over strain and damage his health.
His reputation and integrity was impeccable. I never heard any complaint against him.
And yet this is the man whom much of our media attacked yesterday, like hounds baying for his blood.
So let me tell the truth.
It all began with a story in theprint.in about Justice Sikri's nomination by the Union of India to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitration Tribunal (CSAT) for which Justice Sikri had given his consent.
This part of the story was no doubt correct.
But a half truth can be as bad, if not worse than a total lie, as stated in the Latin maxim 'Suppressio veri suggestio falsus' (i.e. suppression of the truth is equivalent to expression of a falsehood). The story published in theprint.in is guilty of suppressing the full truth, and presenting grossly distorted facts. So let me tell the full truth :
1. The CSAT is a body which decides service disputes of Commonwealth employees. Its sittings are only held as and when an application is received from a Commonwealth employee alleging breach of contract of service. There are no sittings on regular basis, and its members are not based permanently in England. They go the Tribunal when there is some case to decide. That usually happens only 2 or 3 times a year. No regular salary is paid to its members. So the Tribunal members are not like judges of the International Court of Justice who sit permanently at The Hague and are paid regular salary.
So to call it a ' plum posting' as was done in the story in theprint.in is a complete distortion and fake news. It is a low attempt by a journalist to sensationalise and peddle 'masala' to the public, which is the regular habit of most Indian journalists nowadays.
2. Justice Sikri had been nominated to the CSAT by the CJI after taking his consent in the first week of December 2018, that is, more than a month before the Supreme Court judgment on January 8, 2019 which set aside the order sending Alok Verma on leave, and directing the High Powered Committee to decide the matter within a week. It was only after that judgment that the CJI nominated Justice Sikri to the High Powered Committee.
So to link up the decision of the Committee to remove Verma from the CBI with Justice Sikri's consent given a month earlier to be on the CSAT, as the story in theprint.in has tried to do, is absurd, and is another example of the shoddy fake news which most of the Indian media has made its regular habit.
When he gave his consent to be on the CSAT in the first week of December 2018 Justice Sikri was not a member of the High Powered Commttee, and even the Supreme Court judgment of January 8, 2019 had not come. So how can it be insinuated, as the story in theprint.in has done, that the nomination of Justice Sikri to the CSAT was a quid pro quo for his decision to remove Verma from the CBI?
3. Justice Sikri yesterday withdrew his consent to be on the CSAT.
If the media has any shame left they will now apologise to Justice Sikri, whose image they tried their best to sully and besmear.

Comments

Joji Cherian said…
How Outstanding Justice Sikkri was witnessed when he sided with vindictive and corrupt Modi in ousting Alok Varma without giving him a chance to explain his position that is even when the third panelist was opposed to it.Now the judge who was supposed to have overseen the whole process comes out with a different story. Which judge we should trust?

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