In today’s post, I want to talk about the apex institution of our judicial system — The Supreme Court of India. In all honesty, this article has been inspired by the recent events following the interim bail of Arnab Goswami and criminal contempt of court proceedings against Kunal Kamra. Although, I do not intend to take any sides in both these matters and only wish for justice to prevail. But these incidents have shined a light on the working of the apex court, at least for me and hence this post.
The Supreme Court of India has been faced with crippling controversies for a couple of years now. The most recent one of those has been the sexual harassment allegations against the former Chief Justice of India – Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The case that should have made headlines but was almost left out by the mainstream media. The allegations by the complainant were detailed in an affidavit sent to all the judges of the Supreme Court and subsequently with media. The incidents following this were never seen before.
Chief Justice Gogoi convened a special bench of the Supreme Court headed by himself to deal with a matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary. This hearing was breaking a key canon of natural justice that no man can be a judge in his own case. Curiously, Justice Gogoi, who had no business presiding over the bench which was dealing with an allegation against himself, committed another departure from the Supreme Court’s traditions by not signing the order to which he was clearly a party as a member of the bench.
The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life has been issued by the apex court to serve as a guide to be observed by the judges. Two decades later, it seems that the most revered institution has failed to follow this declaration.
Recently, a popular journalist — Arnab Goswami — was taken under judicial custody along with two others — Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda — for a 2018 abetment to suicide case. The Supreme Court in a rare hearing during a holiday recess granted interim bail to the three accused after the Bombay High Court dismissed the plea.
Justice D Y Chandrachud said “SC is unhappy that HCs, which are constitutional courts, are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied…If this court were not to interfere today, we are travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably…Is this is what our state governments will do to those who have to be nailed…? Don’t watch the channel of you don’t like… Left to myself I will not watch… If state govt’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message that SC is there,”
Soon after the interim bail was granted by the apex court, Kunal Kamra went to the microblogging site to tweet about his criticism towards how the Supreme Court fast-tracked this hearing while there are several more pressing issues that remain unheard by the court. The Attorney General granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt of court proceedings against him over his tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge. In response to this, Kamra posted the following letter stating he does not intend to retract his tweets or apologise for them.
While the question remains if Goswami was granted bail on the matter of personal liberty, why is Kamra being denied personal liberty to criticise? Isn’t this a duplicist move by the apex court? What are your views. Do share in the comment box below.