New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday commented that the bar is out to kill the judiciary and some lawyers seem to be carrying the dagger.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, while taking up contempt petitions filed by Attorney General KK Venugopal and the central government against advocate Prashant Bhushan, made strong remarks against attack on judges and judiciary by lawyers even as their cases remain sub-judice.
"Freedom carries responsibility. What if bar is out to kill the judiciary? That's what it looks like. Judiciary has to be protected from outside, not from insiders. Some lawyers seem to be carrying a dagger to kill the judiciary," observed the bench, also comprising Justice Navin Sinha.
The bench added: "Who will back our independence when bar behaves like this? All kinds of allegations are made in the petitions and then they are withdrawn before we deal with them. We are really worried about what's going on these days."
The court maintained that there is a right to know but it cannot fathom why lawyers would comment on pending cases and judges.
"There was a time when lawyers exercised restraint. A line has to be drawn. How can lawyers make comments against others in cases they have filed, they have argued? We wish to examine the law in this regard," further said the judge.
It added: "We are not averse to media reporting on court proceedings but the lawyers involved in a case should desist from making public statements in sub-judice matter. It has now become common that lawyers appearing in case make statements and participate in debate in sub-judice matters."
Agreeing with the AG that the issue requires consideration, the court told Venugopal that lawyers like him, Fali, S Nariman and K Parasaran have raised the level of the bar.
While Venugopal said he is not pressing for punishment to Bhushan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, sought "deterrent" punishment for the lawyer, saying Bhushan has a habit of attacking the judges and bringing down esteem of judiciary in the public eye.
"Magnanimity shouldn't be confused with weakness," says Mehta, adding Bhushan has often made statements on "black day" of judiciary about unfavourable verdicts in cases he appeared.
At this, the bench said that the issue was much larger than individuals and that the court would want to examine it.
It then issued a notice to Bhushan, who was present in the court, and gave him three weeks to file his replies. The court will take up the matter next in March.
The contempt petitions have cited Bhushan's tweets in a case connected to appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim director of the CBI, which allegedly gave an impression that the Attorney General lied about the facts in the case and that the government misled the bench.