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BA Khan | Chief Justice Dipak Misra, You Must Now Repair the Damage

A Judge is Like a Hermit, But Even a Hermit has to See What is Happening Around Him

BA Khan |

Updated:January 12, 2018, 6:44 PM IST
BA Khan | Chief Justice Dipak Misra, You Must Now Repair the Damage
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
My immediate reaction is that I feel somewhat shocked and disappointed at the turn of events. The judiciary has come to a very sad pass and all is not well in the highest court of the land or at least it appears so from the issues raised by these four senior-most judges, who I rate as the most honest and upright judges in the Supreme Court today. They felt frustrated at what is going on in the Supreme Court, which according to them impinges on the independence of the judiciary.

Now, one may say that going public or going to the media was not the right thing to do because it has never happened in the judiciary. We were always told that a judge is supposed to be a hermit. But times have also changed and even a hermit has to see what is happening around him. These judges are seeing actions taking place that are impacting the independence of the judiciary itself. What we need to focus on are the issues that they are raising. Those issues need to be looked into.

If those issues were expressed to the Chief Justice of India, who has been my colleague in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, and he has not responded or done anything to rectify the situation then the blame must surely lie at his door. It seems he has lost the confidence of his Collegium. I don’t know how he will function tomorrow without the support of the other four judges in the Collegium.

Two of the judges who came out today are headed to the post of CJI soon. Instead of waiting it out, they have chosen to go public and bring out the rot that has set in the judiciary. So, the current CJI must pay heed to what they have to say. He must sit down with all the judges of the Supreme Court. Already, a lot of damage has been done to the Supreme Court. People will lose confidence in the judiciary if he fails to do so. People will wonder whether they will get a fair deal or not if they approach the Supreme Court. People feel that there is an executive interference that is running through the judiciary. I know, it is a reality that these are the times when people are pliable and for a few favors they may be compromised, but this shouldn’t overtake or compromise the institution as a whole. You can’t afford an erosion of the judiciary itself.

The latest move by these four honourable judges is a double-edged sword. It can either lead to the betterment of and save the judiciary or it can lead to domination of the executive and lead to a washing away of the roots of the judiciary. The latter, I feel, will be the end of the rule of law in this country as we know it. I don’t know which of these two scenarios will come to pass but I can only pray and expect that this expression of concern will be taken seriously and met without executive interference.

Let the Chief Justice resolve this issue so that a message goes out to the people of this country that they are safe in the hands of the Supreme Court.

If I was the Chief Justice, I would call a full court meeting tomorrow. Take, for example, the selective assignment of judges to certain cases. This is a very serious issue and one of national importance. If the allegation is that cases are hushed up and assignments are made according to likes and dislikes, then it must be rectified. If I am the Chief Justice and I am sincere, honest and do not have any vested interest, I will tell all the judges that assignments will be done by me and my two senior colleagues. Of course, the CJI is the master of the roster, but he is not there to fix the roster arbitrarily according to his likes or dislikes.

My advice to the CJI is to call a meeting tomorrow and ward off all these apprehensions. Chief Justice Dipak Misra, you must now repair the damage.

(Justice Bashir Ahmed Khan is a former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court)

As told to Uday Singh Rana

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| Edited by: Tarun Bhardwaj
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