Control freak, micro-managing, dossier-loving Modi govt manipulating judiciary: Congress

‘Modi government’s approach to the judiciary smacks of three “Is”: Influence, Interference and Intimidation,’ AICC spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in an interaction with the media

 Abhishek Manu Singhvi (File photo)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi (File photo)

NH Web Desk

The Congress on Tuesday slammed the Modi government for manipulating the judiciary, saying that it’s approach to the judiciary smacked of three “Is”: Influence, Interference and Intimidation.

“I am talking today about the approach, the antics of this government viz-a-viz a vital sector of governance in this country, an organ of governance known as the judiciary and with great regret, I have to start by saying that the Modi government’s approach to the judiciary smacks of three “Is”: Influence, Interference and Intimidation,” AICC spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in an interaction with the media.

“It is no secret that this control freak, micro-managing, dossier-loving government has been manipulating the judiciary in the following ways:

• It has excessively and selectively delayed judicial appointment proposals to the High Courts and to the Supreme Court, with Justice Akil Kureshi being only one of many such names;

• It has arbitrarily and selectively bifurcated approved judicial appointees’ lists to the higher judiciary to allow some from the original common list to be appointed quickly, while selectively delaying the appointment of others and thereby irreversibly lowering their relative seniority. There is more than one recent example in a leading high court;

• It has created an ambience of fear, trepidation, anxiety and hesitation in the judiciary by misusing government dossiers to make oblique insinuations about judges;

• It has attempted to prevail upon judicial collegiate do punitive transfers of judicial authorities perceived as inconvenient to the ruling dispensation;

• It has attempted illegally and unfairly interfere, whenever it can and whenever it deems necessary as per its, with judges and the judiciary in general and with the legal process in pursuit of its narrow partisan and ideological interests; and

• It has attempted to install in key positions judicial personnel vetted by it and its fellow traveller on impermissible tests of loyalty, ideology and political commitment.”

“In this longlist of manipulative tactics, comes a clear example of interference from Karnataka. A sitting Judge of that Court has unequivocally said: ‘A sitting judge told me that he had received a call from Delhi (name not disclosed). The person from Delhi asked about me, he said. I told him that I am not affiliated to any party. He said the ADGP is from north India and he is powerful,” the HC judge said, adding that a reference was also made by the sitting judge to the transfer of another judge. Justice Sandesh also said he had reported the perceived threat to the authorities concerned. It affects the independence of the judiciary and amounts to interference with the dispensation of justice, he said’,” Singhvi said.

When a bench of the Supreme Court made strong and pertinent observations regarding the reckless conduct and arrogance of a BJP spokesperson, we saw a three-pronged attack that has become an all-too-familiar tool of the ruling dispensation. (1) Savage and faceless trolls spewed fake news and propaganda, (2) an orchestrated letter by “intellectuals” was dispatched and (3) this was accompanied by one-sided reporting by sections of the media. The Bar, as well as the vast silent majority, stood behind the learned bench for their timely intervention that saved a situation from being exacerbated. However, by attempting to intimidate the Supreme Court, these actors unwittingly exposed the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the violence,” he added.

“A sitting SC judge, Justice Pardiwala, was recently forced to observe: ‘Attacks attempted at our judges for the judgements will lead to a dangerous scenario where the judges will have to pay greater attention as to what the media thinks rather than what the law actually mandates. This puts the rule of law on the burner ignoring the sanctity of the respect for the courts’,” Singhvi said.

“The BJP appears to have empowered its goons with audacity, authority, and reckless adventurism to intimidate judges. Let us not forget what BJP Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said in 2016 in the Lok Sabha, while making a strong pitch for putting a stop to the ‘running commentary’ by the judiciary against other organs of the State,” he added.

The entire nation is following the story of how a fact-checker was jailed. What was more surprising was how, for the first time in the history of their offices, the senior law officers used their talents effectively in the defence of those whose illegal conduct had been exposed by the fact-checker. They desperately and sheepishly opposed the bail on grounds that were far removed from the law. For example, one of the arguments used was that the sentiments of followers had been hurt by having a Seer’s hate speeches exposed. Instead of answering the Court’s queries, another argument implied, without details, that the work of some shady cabal was afoot. The irony is that such small-minded and unconstitutional claims by the authorities only serve to draw more attention to the case while embarrassing them,” he said.

“In another development on 10 July 2022, the Advocates' Association of Bombay High Court at Aurangabad addressed a letter to Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju objecting to the delays in clearing appointment of judges to the Bombay High Court. The representation has called upon the members of bar associations of all benches of the High Court to initiate protests against the delay in appointing High Court judges, until the Modi government acts upon the collegium recommendations at the earliest. The letter specifically highlighted names of nine lawyers whose appointment as judges were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium in February 2022 but are yet to be cleared,” SInghvi added.

“Lastly, the 11 July 2022 judgement of the Supreme Court regarding bail needs to be underlined. We have seen, over the last seven years, egregious executive action on flimsy grounds, invoking usually inapplicable provisions like sedition, UAPA etc. The ruling party governments, both at the centre and in many states, have been the most frequent culprits. Often they are fully aware of the abuse of legal provisions they are indulging in but equally apply the principle that the process is the punishment and the end result be damned. Tardiness or hesitation of courts in giving bail exacerbates the problem,” he said.

“Hence the relevance of the SC’s clear observation that slowness in dealing with bail, or any hesitation or obstruction in their grant, makes India looks ‘like a police state’. The Congress party believes that this is much-needed guidance from the apex court, especially at a time when the ruling dispensation seeks to rule through fear and coercion. It is increasingly clear that the BJP is on a spree of three ’S’s: Sabotage, subjugate and subvert the judiciary,” he said

“The Congress party intends to create in the near future legislative enactments encapsulating, in letter and spirit, as many as possible of the SC guidelines through appropriate state amendments. This will be done using the due process of law, in accordance with the Constitution and subject to due legislative process,” Singhvi said.

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Published: 12 Jul 2022, 7:58 PM