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'We Never Stalled High Courts From Proceeding' : Supreme Court Expresses Displeasure Over Criticism Against Suo Moto Case On COVID

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
23 April 2021 6:54 AM GMT
We Never Stalled High Courts From Proceeding : Supreme Court Expresses Displeasure Over Criticism Against Suo Moto Case On COVID
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On the last working day of the outgoing Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, a bench led by him expressed displeasure at the criticism levelled by the senior lawyers against the suo moto case taken by the Supreme Court on COVID19 related issues.The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said that there was no intention to take over the cases from the High Courts...

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On the last working day of the outgoing Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, a bench led by him expressed displeasure at the criticism levelled by the senior lawyers against the suo moto case taken by the Supreme Court on COVID19 related issues.

The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said that there was no intention to take over the cases from the High Courts and therefore the criticism was unfounded.

"We were not happy to read what supposedly senior advocates said. But everyone has their own opinion", CJI Bobde said, referring to the statements made by senior lawyers against the suo moto case.

The CJI made this remark after Senior Advocate Harish Salve sought permission to be discharged as an amicus curiae from the case, saying "I don't want the matter to be heard under a shadow that I was appointed on the basis of my school friendship with CJI".

"We understand you are pained by those statements and we honour your sentiments", CJI told Salve.

At this juncture, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that a "maligning competition" was going on in the media and electronic media, which was the last thing the country wanted during a time of disaster.

"We are not in a position in the country to have a maligning competition in media and electronic media. Someday somebody from judiciary has to take cognizance of this trend of electronic media. I saw on digital media people literally abusing. This needs to be looked into", the SG said, while requesting Salve not to recuse as amicus succumbing to public pressure.

At this juncture, Justice L Nageswara Rao turned to Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave and asked him :

"Even before the order was released, it was being criticized for something which was not there in the order. Is this the way Senior Advocates speak? Without seeing the order?Is this the way you respond? Imputing motives? Without reading the order?"

Dave said that he was not imputing any motives.

"It was not imputing motives. We all thought your lordships was going to do it(transfer cases from HCs to SC). It was a genuine perception. Your lordships have done it before".

Justice Ravindra Bhat then intervened.

"Mr.Dave, please. We did not say a word about the High Courts. We never stalled the High Courts from proceeding. We asked the Centre to approach High Courts", Justice Bhat told Dave.

Show Cause Why Uniform Orders Not Be Passed By Supreme Court In COVID Related Issues : SC Issues Notice To Centre, States, UTs & Parties Before HCs

"Senior lawyers should protect the institution", Justice Rao added.

"We feel institutions will be strengthened by objective criticism", Dave replied.

Solicitor General then said  "Chief Justice is retiring today. I genuinely feel he deserves a loving farewell. Senior Advocates must not give public statements on the basis of perceptions".

Dave replied : "Mr. Mehta, you have been defending the government only on the basis of perceptions".

Senior Advocate and the present President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Vikas Singh  added : "Solicitor General has said that no migrants were walking in the road and the Court has accepted".

"What is going on here?", the SG said.

Vikas Singh then said that hospitals in Delhi are facing oxygen shortage, and court must look into inter-state issues.

"That is exactly what we are looking at", CJI responded.

CJI then said that the bench was closing the matter for today and was adjourning it to next Tuesday, as Solicitor General was seeking time to file reply.

The bench also allowed the request of Salve to be relieved from the case.

"I want my Chief Justice to have a decent farewell, not this abuse", Solicitor General said after this.

"We are not abusing. We object to this statement", Dave responded.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat was hearing the suo moto case 'In Re : Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic".


It was yesterday that the CJI-led bench decided to take suo moto cognizance of issues relating to COVID19. The CJI orally observed that the trend of different High Courts dealing with such issues has created "confusion and diversion of resources".

The bench issued notice to the Union Government, State Governments, UTs and parties who have approached the High Courts asking them to show cause why the Supreme Court should not pass a uniform order on issues related to :

a)Supply of oxygen;

b)Supply of essential drugs;

c)Method and manner of vaccination; and

d)Declaration of lockdown.

The Court also asked the Central Government to place before it a national plan for dealing with essential services and supplies during Pandemic.

The move of the Supreme Court to take over the cases from High Courts came under widespread criticism from the legal community. Several senior lawyers opined that the Supreme Court's intervention, when the High Courts are seized of the issues, was "uncalled for and unjustified".

'Unjustified' : Senior Lawyers Criticize Supreme Court's Move To Transfer COVID Matters From High Courts To Itself

The Supreme Court Bar Association has filed an application saying that the High Courts should not be stopped in dealing the cases as they are best suited to deal with local problems.



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