Judiciary row: Mallikarjun Kharge has four questions for PM Modi

Kharge was responding to Modi's X post in which the PM implied that the Congress had formed a pressure group to influence the judiciary

PM Narendra Modi (left) and Mallikarjun Kharge
PM Narendra Modi (left) and Mallikarjun Kharge

NH Digital

In a letter dated 26 March addressed to Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, as many as 600 lawyers, including senior advocate Harish Salve and Bar Council of India chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra expressed concern against mounting political and professional pressure through the actions of an interest group, which they alleged was aimed at undermining the judiciary’s integrity.

In an X post from his handle this evening, here is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to respond to the allegations about the pressure group: "To browbeat and bully others is vintage Congress culture. 5 decades ago itself they had called for a "committed judiciary" - they shamelessly want commitment from others for their selfish interests but desist from any commitment towards the nation. No wonder 140 crore Indians are rejecting them."

The obvious implication here being that it was the Congress which stood behind the pressure group. It probably helped PM Modi's cause that the letter by the lawyers did not name anyone, though it did accuse the group of employing pressure tactics to influence judicial outcomes, particularly in cases involving political figures, "which pose a significant threat to the democratic fabric and the trust placed in judicial processes".

Unlikely that an Opposition party would be able to coerce and influence judicial decisions in its favour, a fact that the prime minister once again chose to gloss over.

In an X post of his approximately an hour before filing this report, here's what Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had to tell the prime minister: "Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi you are obviously not aware, but it is not proper form for the PM to comment on our judiciary."

Kharge then also proceeded to tell PM Modi that the latter considers "India's institutions to be your personal property", and posed certain questions to him:

1. Why did 4 senior-most Supreme Court judges hold an unprecedented press conference and warn against "destruction of Democracy" by your regime?

2. Why was one of the judges nominated by your Govt to the Rajya Sabha?

3. Why has your party fielded a former high court judge from West Bengal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

4. Why did you bring the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) that was struck down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court?

The first question is a reference to the unprecedented 2018 press conference by four senior Supreme Court judges — J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph — as they went public with complaints against then CJI Dipak Misra.

The so called rebel judges had said "things are not in order" with what they described as "the administration of the Supreme Court", and insisted that an independent judiciary was essential for a functioning democracy. Of the four, Gogoi later became the BJP's nominee as a member of the Rajya Sabha.

In his X post, Kharge also said, "Modi ji, India's institutions are the property of India's people. You are personally responsible for usurping their powers and weakening our country. The Congress party helped build and nurture these institutions. Thousands of our workers and leaders gave their lives for them. We will take these institutions back from you and return them to the people of India."

In an earlier but related post, Kharge also wrote: "Modi ji, Institution after Institution is being 'bullied' by you into submission, so STOP pinning the blame on the Congress party, for your own sins! You have mastered the art of manipulating Democracy and hurting the Constitution!"

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