CJI Bobde is very touchy about anyone expressing lack of faith in the S.C. His concern is right but his response is not. Instead of finding out why there is lack of faith, he chooses to punish the person expressing the lack of faith. He has refused to hear Harsh Mander‘s petition without first ascertaining whether he has expressed.
A lack of faith in the apex court or not implying that he might not hear him if he really does not have faith in the S.C. His stand is unacceptable.
Our right to justice and other constitutional and legal rights are not conditional.
However, the relevant question is whether the people have the right to lose faith in the judiciary or not. The people do not have the right to not accept its verdict, but have every right to believe it to be wrong.
It is the same about the Executive and the Legislature i.e. the government and Parliament/State Assemblies.
The people are bound to follow their decisions but not to accept them as right. However, the people already treat the judiciary differently even when they find its verdict wrong. They do not condemn their unsalable judgments or take out processions against them or ‘gherao’ the courts or the judges. They show the judiciary due respect which the judiciary should appreciate. The respect should be mutual.
Is there no reason or cause for lack of faith in the S.C. or other courts or the judges?
During 1970s, Indira Gandhi gave an open call for ‘a committed judiciary’. She superseded three senior judges of the S.C. ( for rejecting her contention that Parliament had the power to repeal the constitution and rewrite it ) and appointed the fourth ( Justice A.N.Ray ) in seniority* as the Chief Justice of India. She terrorized the judges by transferring them as punishment for judgments she did not like. In 1976, the Supreme Court held that during an emergency, the State (government) could detain, torture or kill anyone but the court could not interfere or intervene ( 4 judges gave this verdict with Justice H.R.Khanna dissenting. He was superseded and not appointed the CJI). Under these circumstances, can the people have unshakable faith in the judiciary ?
When Indira Gandhi returned to power
In 1980, Justice P.N. Bhagawati, a sitting judge of the S.C. wrote her a sycophantic letter which would put a courtier to shame. And recently, Justice Arun Mishra, a sitting judge of the S.C., delivered a flattering speech in P.M. Modi’s presence, which has created the impression that he was angling for something.
These do not only lower the concerned judges’ standing in the society but also make them suspect as judges.
The reputation of a judge is very fragile and vulnerable and once compromised very difficult to retrieve.
A doubt in the fairness of judges lowers the dignity of the judiciary and creates disbelief in the fairness of its verdicts. It deals a blow to the prestige and credibility of judiciary as an institution and shakes the foundation of one of the most vital pillars of democracy.
The judges should be sensitive to public opinion and follow their own maxim that ‘justice should not only be done but appear to have been done.’