NEW DELHI: A lawyers’ body has expressed grave concern over the issues raised by Supreme Court’s senior-most judge Justice J Chelameswar in a letter to the Chief Justice of India urging him to convene a full court to deal with the alleged executive interference in judiciary.
“The letter of Justice Chelameswar reveals direct interference of central government in the process of appointment of judges in the High Court. The letter clearly shows that the independence of the Judiciary is in peril now,” the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) said in a statement.
It said that lawyers across the country were concerned with the latest revelations made in the letter in which Justice Chelameswar has questioned the probe initiated by Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari against District and Sessions Judge Krishna Bhat at the request of the Ministry of Law and Justice, despite his name being recommended for elevation twice by the Collegium.
“More painful for the democracy is that the present Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court has obediently succumbed to the Executive pressure. The present govt is not only deliberately destroying the independence of judiciary but few judges are also abetting it,” a statement, released by AILU president and senior advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and General Secretary Som Dutta Sharma, said.
Condemning the move of inquiry against a recommendee of the collegium, the AILU said if the collegium’s recommendations cannot be accepted, these should have been referred to the apex court for reconsideration.
“A judge is oath bound to uphold the Constitution without favour and fear. Chief Justice of Karnataka has failed in the instant case to stick to his oath. It’s time to raise voice to save both democracy and the Constitution,” the statement said.
Justice Chelameswar had shot off a letter on Martch 21 to the CJI urging him to consider convening a full court to take up the issue of alleged executive interference in judiciary. He had also cautioned that “the bonhomie between the judiciary and the government in any State sounds the death knell to democracy”.
Justice Chelameswar, who had held the unprecedented January 12 press conference along with three other senior judges raising issues including the allocation of cases by the CJI, had said, “We, the judges of the Supreme Court of India, are being accused of ceding our independence and our institutional integrity to the Executive’s incremental encroachment.
“The executive is always impatient, and brooks no disobedience even of the judiciary if it can. Attempts were always made to treat the Chief Justices as the Departmental Heads in the Secretariat. So much for our ‘independence and pre-eminence’ as a distinct State organ.”