21 Feb 2023 12:18 PM GMT
"The credibility of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is sky-high. It cannot be eroded or impinged by the statements of individuals," the Bombay High Court said in a detailed order dismissing the PIL against the Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. "The Constitution of India is supreme and sacrosanct. Every citizen of India is bound by the Constitution and...
"The credibility of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is sky-high. It cannot be eroded or impinged by the statements of individuals," the Bombay High Court said in a detailed order dismissing the PIL against the Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.
"The Constitution of India is supreme and sacrosanct. Every citizen of India is bound by the Constitution and is expected to abide by the constitutional values. The constitutional institutions are to be respected by all, including constitutional authorities and persons holding constitutional posts," the bench added in the order .
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Sandeep Marne passed the order on an PIL by the Bombay Lawyer's Association alleging constant public criticism of the judiciary’s ‘collegium system’ and remarks against the basic structure doctrine.
Petitioner - the Bombay Lawyers Association sought to restrain them from discharging their duties claiming that the two have disqualified themselves from holding constitutional posts of Vice President and Minister of the Union Cabinet through their conduct, having expressed lack of faith in the Constitution of India.
The court said, "The constitutional authorities cannot be removed in the manner as suggested by the Petitioner."
Moreover, "Fair criticism of the judgment is permissible. It is no doubt, fundamental duty of every citizen to abide by the Constitution. Majesty of law has to be respected," the court added.
The bench recorded the ASG 's submissions that VP Jagdeep Dhankhar and the Law Minister's statements have never "undermined the authority of the judiciary and its independence will always remain untouched and promoted and they respect the ideals of the Constitution."
The court had heard Advocate Ahmed Abdi for the petitioner and ASG Anil Singh for the respondent. The ASG refuted allegations and said the PIL was a publicity stunt and not maintainable. Constitutional functionaries could only be removed under Articles 67, 102, 103 of the constitution of India and not by a court.
During the hearing Abdi said the attacks on the judiciary were affecting the population at large.
“We come here with great anguish. Whatever is happening is in the public domain. We are not against debate. But should this be held in the parliament, in the court or on the streets? This is lowering the court in the eyes of the people. Is this what their conduct be? This is not only derogatory to the constitution but it is affecting the public at large. It will lead to anarchy. If they are serious they should introduce a bill in the parliament of approach the SC.”
ASG Anil Singh argued, “This is a frivolous petition. Waste of the time of the court. The only object is to get publicity. Before it came before the court the petition was already in the newspaper. See the grounds. The law minister is saying follow the constitution. Where is the question of disrespecting the constitution? They have repeatedly said the constitution should be respected and followed."
The Petitioner claimed between 2021-2023 they have been continuously attacking the “collegium system” by which judges are appointed and the case of Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala in which the SC held by a 7:6 majority that the basic structure of the constitution cannot be amended or tampered with.
After listing several instances of criticism, the plea states that Constitutional functionaries are supposed to have faith and allegiance to the constitution of India, which they have affirmed while taking oath of Office. “Inspite of the facts, they have shown lack of faith in the Constitution and SC by their conduct and their utterances made in public.”
The Supreme Court of India introduced the collegium system in 1993 and in 1998 the Supreme Court, on the president’s reference, expanded the collegium to a five member body, comprising of the CJI and four of his senior most colleagues. In 2015 the Sc re-affirmed the decision in the third Judge’s case and struck down the 99th amendment.
Case Title: Bombay Lawyers Association v. Jagdeep Dhankar and Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 79
Click Here To Read/Download The Order