Justice Chelameswar To Speak On "Role Of Judiciary In A Democracy" At Harvard Club Of India Event

Justice Chelameswar To Speak On "Role Of Judiciary In A Democracy" At Harvard Club Of India Event

The "rebel" of the Supreme Court, Justice J. Chelameswar is set to address a Harvard Club of India event on the "Role of Judiciary in a Democracy".

The event would witness Justice Chelameswar in conversation with journalist Karan Thapar. It would be held at the Speaker Hall, Annexe, Constitution Club of India, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on 7 April.

The event especially assumes importance in the light of the recent letter penned by Justice Chelameswar to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra calling for a full court on the judicial side to discuss the matter of government interference in the appointment of Judges to High Courts.

In the letter, Justice Chelameswar had also made some scathing remarks against Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, who initiated an inquiry against a senior District and Sessions Court Judge at the behest of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The incident related to the inquiry initiated against Judge P. Krishna Bhat, who had been recommended for elevation by the Supreme Court collegium. While stalling his elevation, the Centre had communicated the need for an inquiry to the Chief Justice of the High Court directly.

Condemning the Centre for its actions, Justice Chelameswar had now pointed out that if the Centre had any reservations about Judge Bhat's candidature for elevation, it could have sent back the recommendation for the Collegium's reconsideration, instead of writing to the High Court. He wrote,

"For some time, our unhappy experience has been that the Government’s accepting our recommendations is an exception and sitting on them is the norm. “Inconvenient” but able judges or judges to be are being bypassed through this route.

I do not think any of us disputes that elevating a person to be a judge of a High Court is a constitutional concern involving two authorities: the Supreme Court and the executive. The role of High Court ceases with its recommendation. Any correspondence, clarificatory or otherwise, has to be between these two authorities. To my mind, I could recollect no instance from the past of the executive bypassing the Supreme Court, more particularly while its recommendations are pending, and asking the High Court, as if it were an interdepartmental matter, to look into the allegations already falsified and conclusively rejected by us. Asking the High Court to reevaluate our recommendation in this matter has to be deemed improper and contumacious."

Thereafter, expressing his displeasure with the practice of the Centre directly communicating with the High Courts, he had asserted that "bonhomie" between the Judiciary and the Government "sounds the death knell to Democracy", and had written, "We only have to look forward to the time, which may not be far-off if not already here, when the executive directly communicates with the High Courts about the pending cases and what orders to be passed. We can be happy that much of our burden is taken away. And an Honorable Chief Justice like Dinesh Maheswari may perhaps be ever willing to do the executive bidding, because good relations with the other Branches is a proclaimed constitutional objective."

Emphasizing on the Government and the Judiciary being "mutual watchdogs" rather than "mutual admirers", he had then called for a full court on the judicial side to discuss the issue.

The event might, therefore, shed some more light on any progress made on the concerns highlighted by Justice Chelameswar in his letter.