Judiciary losing its Credibility: on Justice Arun Mishra's praisal of PM Modi
27 Feb 2020
Justice Arun Mishra of Supreme Court gave a speech at the ‘International Judicial Conference 2020’, the topic of which was - “Judiciary and the changing world.” This was not an ordinary conference.
That speech has come into controversy now.
In that speech, Justice Arun Mishra said, ‘the PM Modi is a versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally’.
The union government is the biggest litigant before the Supreme Court and there is something called presumption of the constitutionality which is not healthy for a democracy like India.
Presumption of Constitutionality
Whenever parliament passes a law, the SC assumes that this law is constitutional. It is for the petitioners to prove that this law is unconstitutional and if the petitioners prove that this law is unconstitutional, SC will strike that law down. But if a SC Judge praises the member of the executive , the PM, it takes this presumption of constitutionality to another level.
Now, not only laws passed by the parliament are presumed to be constitutional, it also would mean that the actions of the executive would also be deemed as constitutional by the judges.
Restatement of Values of Judicial Life
In 1997, the SC created a charter called ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’. According to this charter, every judge, at all times, must be conscious that he is under the public gaze. This means that even if a judge admires a political leader personally, he/she is expected to keep that admiration to themselves and not let it affect their opinions.
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So, when a judge praises an executive, it creates unnecessary doubt about the independence of the judiciary. The Indian Supreme Court is viewed as one of the strongest and most powerful constitutional courts in the world. It is perhaps the only country in the world where judges are appoints themselves. It is viewed that the judiciary should be independent so that there should be no interference by the executive.
But the speech of Justice Mishra has said something that can’t be understood. On one hand, the Judiciary should be independent but at the same time, a sitting judge of the SC is openly praising the executive.
People may also argue that the judge is also a product of the society and can praise a political leader if he gets impressed just like another man.
But we can’t treat both of them equally. There should be a different yardstick for a judge and a different yardstick for a layman. It is unbecoming of a sitting judge of the SC to publicly praise a member of the executive.
Supreme Court derives its strength from the constitution.Powers of the SC are given by the Constitution and Supreme Court is also the final interpreter of the constitution.
But how can one ensure that this Supreme Court is also an institution of credibility.
We can only ensure that the Supreme Court is a credible institution only if people have faith in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court draws its strength from the constitution but it draws its credibility from the faith people repose in the Supreme Court.
But if the Judges of the Supreme Court starts publicly praising the executive, that’s the biggest litigant in India, then it erodes the faith of the public in this institution.