SC refuses to expunge remark on Allahabad HC
New Delhi, December 10
“It is nowhere mentioned” (in the November 26 Supreme Court order) that “all judges of the HC are corrupt. What is mentioned in the order is that there are complaints against ‘certain judges’, not all judges,” a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra clarified in a four-page order today.
The Bench passed the order while disposing of the Allahabad High Court’s petition seeking expunction of the “sweeping observations” against the HC. The Bench quoted the following paragraph from its November 26 order: “We do not mean to say that all lawyers who have close relatives as judges of the HCare misusing that relationship. Some are scrupulously taking care that no one should lift a finger on this account. However, others are shamelessly taking advantage of this relationship.”
“How is the above a sweeping observation? A distinction is clearly made in the above between those who are taking care of their reputation and those who are not,” the Bench pointed out.
It further said that Justice Katju “has close attachment to the HC as his family has been associated with the HC for over a century. It is, therefore, inconceivable that he would like to damage the HC in any way.
“However, what has caused great pain and anguish to us, are certain unfortunate happenings for some time in the HC. It is not necessary to mention all of them here, but reference can certainly be made to certain distressing orders passed during the summer vacations by certain judges of the HC this year (2010), one of which pertains to this very case” in which the SC Bench had made the observations on November 26.
Rejecting the Allahabad High Court’s contention that the observations “seriously damage the reputation of the institution,” the apex court said: “(the) reputation of an institution is damaged and its image sullied when some of its members pass shocking orders and behave in a totally unacceptable manner.”
Acknowledging the “anguish” of some the Allahabad High Court judges, the apex court said, “But we cannot overlook the fact that there are times when introspection is required, and not mere reaction. We earnestly request the Hon’ble judges of the HC to consider our order in that spirit.”
During the arguments, senior counsel PP Rao contended that the public would not be able to identify the “black sheep” in the Allahabad High Court. Justice Katju retorted: “Everybody knows which judge is honest and which judge is corrupt. The day Katju starts taking bribe, the whole country will know. Don’t think people of India are fools. It is another matter they will not say who is corrupt out of fear. But things can’t be concealed.”
Justice Katju further said whatever he was today was because of the Allahabad High Court. “I know the high court hundred times more than you do. Please don’t tell me,” he advised Rao.
The Bench began the order talking about the “glorious history” of the high court right from the days of the freedom struggle and acknowledging that the largest HC “often gives leadership to all HCs in the country.”
“There are presently many excellent judges of the HC. These upright judges are keeping the flag of the HC flying high by their integrity and hard work. It is, therefore, totally false to say that all Judges of the HC are corrupt, or to construe our order dated 26.11.2010 in that manner.”
Bar hails it, judges anguished
Lucknow, December 10
A sitting judge on condition of anonymity confided that there was “gloom” all around. “Such remarks and observations do not serve any purpose. The question is what did this respected judge do about this problem when he was serving in Allahabad? This episode has eroded the confidence of the people in one of the vital pillars of Indian democracy without giving any doable solution”.
Senior advocate and Human Rights activist Ravikiran Jain, who had first raised the issue of uncle judges, said that while the members of the bar have generally welcomed it today’s judgment has not served any purpose as “their (Justice Katju and Justice Mishra’s) out of proportion observation” hasfurther complicated issues. Recalling a practical way out Jain said that former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court V K Rai had tackled this issue by a simple administrative order by directing that cases of lawyers should not be listed in courts of uncle judges. But without any concrete suggestion such observations would create more problems than they would solve, observed Jain.
Former Advocate General of UP and Chairperson of the Minority Commission senior advocate S M A Kazmi had an interesting observation: “We shouldn’t forget the system of justice is based upon the tradition where even after a stupid argument the lawyer is called learned counsel and a man of flesh and blood is called My Lord”.
According to him these are the “velvet curtains” behind which we maintain the aura and dignity of the system. “Faith of the people in the dignity makes the system operational and successful. Democracy rests on the confidence of litigants in the system of justice. Therefore, this aura and dignity of the system deserves to be duly protected”, said Kazmi.
He said if there is any individual aberration it could have been taken care of by applying some internal mechanism or a confidential enquiry. “But making of a sweeping statement or the observation with regard to the integrity of the judges generally shakes the confidence of the litigants and such a situation is not very sound for a healthy democracy”.
Today a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra dismissed the Allahabad High Court’s application for expunging the criticism of “uncle judges” However, they clarified that there were also “excellent and good judges too” in the court.
Such remarks and observations do not serve any purpose. The question is what did this respected judge do about this problem when he was serving in Allahabad?. — A sitting