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Our Judges Need To Show Some Backbone And Spine, Particularly In Dealing With Issues Of Personal Liberty: Justice Lokur

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Nov 2019 8:31 AM GMT
Our Judges Need To Show Some Backbone And Spine, Particularly In Dealing With Issues Of Personal Liberty: Justice Lokur
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"A few recent judicial verdicts and administrative decisions seem to suggest that some of our judges need to show some backbone and spine, particularly in dealing with issues of personal liberty — no one can be thrown in jail without any effective remedy, and kept there because of information passed on to the judges in a sealed cover, or because there is no time (except perhaps to copy-paste), or because of misinformation, or because a person is safer in jail."

Making strong remarks against the recent judicial and administrative decisions of the Supreme Court, Justice Madan Lokur said that Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had assumed office at a time when he will be faced with an "unenviable task" of restoring the "credibility and stature" of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has recently been in the spotlight due to listing of various controversial matters, one after the other. With Justice Bobde taking charge of the CJI office from Monday, he will be tasked with dealing in such cases.

In an article written in the Hindustan Times, Justice Lokur hinted towards the blatant violation of fundamental rights and personal liberty in the Kashmir Valley following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, and said,

"A few recent judicial verdicts and administrative decisions seem to suggest that some of our judges need to show some backbone and spine, particularly in dealing with issues of personal liberty — no one can be thrown in jail without any effective remedy, and kept there because of information passed on to the judges in a sealed cover, or because there is no time (except perhaps to copy-paste), or because of misinformation, or because a person is safer in jail."

Talking about the recent decisions of the Collegium, pertaining to appointment and transfers of judges, he said,

"If the transfer of judges of the constitutional courts can even be contemplated for their bona fide (maybe incorrect) understanding of the law in granting relief, what can an accused expect of a mere magistrate or sessions judge?"

This is not the first time when Justice Lokur has expressed his distress over inconsistent and unexplained judicial appointments. Last month, he had suggested that the Collegium decisions were certainly made under the influence of the ruling government, to fit its preferences and reprisals.

Adding to these remarks he said,

"Dispelling muted apprehensions within the legal fraternity, and the fear of raids and arrest of lawyers and the citizenry by a caged parrot and its first cousin, will infuse that confidence."

He asserted that the Supreme Court Collegium should cease the new pattern of "virtual non-disclosure" of reasons for judges' appointments and should instead keep open the channels of communication between the judiciary and the lay public.

"Transparency is not a like a pendulum. Disclosures on appointment of judges through resolutions of the collegium swung from one end a few years ago to a virtual non-disclosure in the recent past. A balance has to be struck and a free and frank discussion must take place among the judges," he remarked.

He suggested that in order to restore judge's confidence and to ensure institutional support and transparency, "Judges at all levels must, therefore, be given the confidence that they will not be "punished" for an honest decision, even if that decision is incorrect."

Further, he suggested, that Justice Bobde must strive to "instil faith in all judges that they will be fully protected in the discharge of their duties…according to law and the Constitution."

In his closing remarks, Justice Lokur contemplated whether the citizenry could continue to have faith in a judiciary that tends to "bend, but not yet crawl."

Justice Lokur retired from the Supreme Court in December 2018 and is presently serving as judge on the non-resident panel of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

Earlier, he had accused Justice Bobde lead in-house panel that was tasked with investigating into the sexual harassment against former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, of "institutional bias".

"Many questions are left unanswered and actually many are trying to solve a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Some transparency is needed. Can any member of the internal committee or somebody from the Supreme Court please help?" he had said.

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