Skip to main content

Prashant Bhushan behaviour 'irresponsible', judges should 'avoid' politicians, tycoons

Justice Bobde after being sworn in as CJI on Nov 19, 2019
By NS Venkataraman*
In all countries, including the countries with dictatorial regimes , judiciary is considered as one of the pillars for maintaining fair dealings in the society. It is possible that in some of the countries which do not have the highest form of democracy, the judges may be influenced by the ruling coterie. However, in democratic countries, generally the judiciary is viewed as an independent, impartial and fair body.
In India, the judiciary commands a high level of confidence amongst the people in various walks of life. People think that the judiciary provides the best guarantee for rendering justice to everyone.. Any efforts to weaken the judiciary by attributing motives to the judges or painting the judges as biased will certainly weaken the judiciary and consequently the pillar of democracy.
In such circumstances, the comments of the civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan about the judges have caused considerable surprise, since any individual, particularly a senior lawyer, is expected to be careful in making remarks and posting comments and is expected to exercise utmost caution in the observations.
Prashant Bhushan tweeted a photograph of Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde astride a bike, and another on the court’s role in the past six years. Obviously, by posting such tweets, Prashant Bhushan has not behaved like a senior lawyer who should know his responsibility.
The fact is that Prashant Bhushan has been appearing in several cases in Supreme Court and some judgements have gone in his favour and some against. Praising the judge if the judgement would go in one’s favour and criticizing the judge if the judgement would go against, reflects a prejudiced mindset, lacking in wisdom.
The court was absolutely right when it said that Bhushan’s tweet gave an impression that the Chief Justice of India is enjoying his ride on a motorbike, worth Rs 50 lakh, belonging to a BJP leader, at a time when he has kept the Supreme court in lockdown mode. The court said that the tweet was a wild allegation based on distorted facts and termed it as scandalous.
Confronted with such a campaign by Prashant Bhushant , the judges had two options: One was to ignore the comment with the contempt that it deserves. The other option was to take action against the concerned person .
Prashant Bhushan seems to think that liberty to pass comments about others is unlimited in democracy. Liberty has to be conditioned by responsible behaviour
If the judges had exercised the first option of ignoring the comment, apprehension was, it would embolden every lawyer or any other person to make similar comments about the pronouncements of the judges, who have the difficult job of passing judgements on complex matters, where there can be divergent views. Such comments would inevitably create a bad impression in the minds of the people about the judges. It would weaken the image of the judiciary resulting in loss of its credibility.
Therefore, the judiciary exercised the second option and Prashant Bhushan, so that a precedent would not be created where anyone can say anything about the judiciary and get away with it.
Prashant Bhushan's controversial tweet
In India, the judiciary has several self correcting procedures, with courts operating at various levels. If one would be dissatisfied with the judgement, a higher court can be approached. Even in the highest court (Supreme Court), it is often the practice to create a bench consisting of more than one judge to hear the case and give the judgement. Obviously, this means that the judiciary only wants to be absolutely correct by giving scope for dissenting judgement and with the majority judgement prevailing.
Some lawyers in India have certain views about the socio economic and political issues. They don’t think it is necessary to be neutral. In the pre-independent days, there were lawyers who involved themselves in political activities. However, when they took political stands, they ceased to be lawyers practicing in the court.
It is not in the national interest to pass adverse views about judges in the social media or from public platforms. The judiciary system permits that, if one has a grievance about a particular judge, case can be filed against the judge too.
Prashant Bhushan is an activist and has been a member of a political party. He seems to think that the liberty to pass comments about others is unlimited in democracy. Liberty has to be conditioned by responsible behaviour and disciplined comments. He deserves punishment for making unwarranted comments about the judges and not substantiating them.
This incident is also a reminder to the judges at various levels that they have to be extremely cautious in associating themselves with various activities or participating in public or private meetings. We have seen judges participating in the meetings, sharing platform with politicians, business men and ministers, some of whom have been facing criminal charges in the courts. This is absolutely bad practice.
In the pre-Independent days, the country has seen judges who have refrained from even attending family functions and kept themselves reclusive to maintain the image of themselves as impartial and neutral persons. Such high standards are rarely seen these days.
Judges should keep in mind Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that a man of truth should also be a man of care.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai

Comments

Anonymous said…
What a lowbrow article!
Dr A K Biswas said…
Thanks for keeping me in the loop.
Spaces for citizens have been shrinking gradually. It's a cause of anxiety.
Anonymous said…
i find this to be rather naive writing. to ignore completely the context and nature of the tweets, is only expressing ones ignorance on the issue and doesn't add an iota of intelligence to the debate or bring any fresh perspective.
It is proclaimed by Supreme Court that Bench&Bar is two sides of the same coin.Mr.Bhushan being a senior member of Bar,he has the right to indicate the shortcomings in Judiciary to uphold Independence of Judiciary.He had rightly pin pointed the shortcomings and he cannot be hauled up for criminal contempt. It is like the fence eating gross.The present article fully ignores the role of Indian Bar,its right to uphold Independence of Judiciary.

TRENDING

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i

'Extremist' US Hindu global group funding hate against Indian Churches: NGO groups

Counterview Desk  As many as 14 civil rights and faith-based organizations in co-signing a letter to the US Senators, Representatives, State Governor, and other elected officials have demanded the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Department of Justice should investigate into Texas-based organization Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) a fundraiser campaign for demolishing churches in India. Co-signed by Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA), North American Church of God, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Human Rights Program, Amnesty International - Dallas, World Without Genocide, Center for Pluralism, Genocide Watch, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Limitless Church, Justice for All, Hindu for Human Rights, North Texas Peace Advocates, Good Citizens of DFW, and the North Texas Islamic Council, the letter has been sent to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Representatives Michael C Burgess, Pat Fallon, Van Taylor, Terr

Carbon abatement to tackle climate change: India's failure has 'outpaced' its success

By Satorupa Karmakar*  On November 01, 2021, India took a pledge of reaching a carbon-zero stage by 2070, at the COP-26 held in Glasgow, UK. As ‘ambitious’ and dubious it may sound to some, with a short-term delay in renewable energy generation (which gained the pace post-September 2020) and drastic fall in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission level as COVID-19 emerged as a ‘necessary evil’ , the path of India’s clean energy mission could be seen being paved throughout this time. Currently ranked as the third largest GHG emitter in the world, India is projected to demand more energy in coming years due to a large population base (1.3 billion as per 2011 Census data) and primarily coal-based fast-growing economy. Rapid industrialisation in post-colonial developing countries like India, stimulated by a larger and cheaper pool of fossil fuels and labour-force depicted a continuous upsurge in temperature, heavy precipitation in some places with an overall declining rainfall and a burgeoning soc

BJP-RSS trap opposition in 'futile row' around Savarkar, freedom movement

By Prem Singh*  Everything in this article is just a repetition. I have been saying all this since 1991-92. It is obvious that the Congress and the RSS/BJP do not like my ideas. But most socialists, advocates of social justice and communists also dislike my thoughts. I watch their measures and efforts to deal with the present crisis with interest. I respect them and also participate. Yet, the fact it, we fall behind again and again, and the crisis goes ahead. Instead of being a solution-providers, we are seen to be a part of the crisis. How long will this last? Perhaps, if the new generation thinks differently, things may turn for better! 1 To say that modern Indian society and politics are passing through the deepest crisis ever will surely be a repetition. The crisis is deeper than the spreading of communal hatred we witness around us. In fact, the business of communal hatred is flourishing by taking its manure and water from the deep crisis. The crisis of neo-colonial slavery is pro

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

'Unprecedented rise' of attacks on students of Delhi university by ABVP condemned

Counterview Desk  A statement, sent as an email alert by "concerned teachers and students of Delhi University", referring to a protest organised against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP's), has alleged “brutal” attack on students and teachers demanding the release of civil rights leader Prof GN Saibaba and others from “unjust incarceration.” “We are seeing an unprecedented rise of attacks on the students of our university by the fascist ABVP goons. Almost every week we see our fellow students and activists getting attacked physically by the lackeys of this current Brahmanical Hindutva fascist regime”, the statement claimed. Text : A joint protest was organised by the students and teachers of Delhi University on 2nd of December against the brutal attack by ABVP goons. On 1st of December, activists of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Lawyers Against Atrocities (LAA) and many other organisations as a part of Campaign Against State Repression (CASR),

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Muslims, Dalits off Bangladesh border 'don't have acess to' water, power, farmland

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, civil rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has revealed how, even after 75 years of Independence, Muslims and Dalits living next to the India-Bangladesh border do not have access to electricity, drinking water, even to their own land. Stating that the “horrible situation” has due to “illegal restriction on the agricultural activities” imposed by the Border Security Force (BSF), plunging “farmers and their families into deeper poverty”, the letter, referring to the plight of 1,200 people reside in the Changmari village, states, There are about 200 acres of cultivable lands out of 3,500 acres is situated beyond the border fence. “The ingress and egress of the farmers to their own agricultural land through the fencing gates are regulated by the BSF. The soil and climate of this region is very suitable for jute and maize cultivation”, it adds. Text: This letter is

Climate change 'can't be fought' with fancy issues: re-engineering cities, green energy

By Shankar Sharma*  "The Hindu" has carried a discussion paper in the form of an interview, Can poor countries afford to go green? Many such articles/ opinion pieces are making the grievous mistake of ignoring a fundamental question: what is the true cost of climate change (CC), and can poor countries, or for that matter any community, afford not to do all that is feasible to address the threats of  CC; instead of wasting our time and resources in endlessly deliberating on the so called "financial/economic costs" of the much needed transition. Such articles seem to focus only on high profile / glamorous/ debatable stuff, and ignore the basic issues which we all can do something or the other to minimise the impacts of CC in the short-term, and which may probably lead to long term solution. The opinion pieces/ discussion, as above, are guilty of conveniently ignoring the basic question: what is the fundamental cause of CC? The answer should be: the unsustainable dema

Nullify environmental release, uproot GM mustard plants: 111 doctors urge Modi

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 111 medical professionals , most of them senior doctors, has expressed concern with regard to human health implications of the genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard that got approved by Government of India, with indications that it has already been planted in at least six locations. Floated by Dr Rupal M Dalal, a Mumbai-based pediatrician, the letter, even as “welcoming” Modi’s “unprecedented push” towards non-chemical farming in the country for the benefit of environment, nature, consumers and farmers, it said, “HT GM mustard will push the country in the opposite direction.” “A herbicide tolerant crop will put an end to diversity-based cropping, which is important not just for soil health but human health and expose consumers and farmers to a toxic herbicide with serious long term health implications”, it added. The letter seeks the Prime Minister’s urgent intervention to not only withdraw th