You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ex-judges, officials criticise SC's Nupur observations

The Times of India logo The Times of India 06-07-2022
© Provided by The Times of India

NEW DELHI: A group of retired judges, bureaucrats and military officers on Tuesday wrote an open letter to CJI NV Ramana criticising a bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala for not protecting the fundamental rights of BJP's suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma and, instead, breaching judicial ethos by making "unfortunate and unprecedented" remarks against the petitioner.

In the letter to the CJI, 15 retired judges, 77 retired bureaucrats and 25 retired officers of the armed forces said the SC bench's stance in turning down Sharma's plea was violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and in conflict with its verdicts in similar cases. They also said the "judgmental remarks" were unprecedented, mark an "indelible scar" on the justice system, and "in a sense dilute the barbaric and dastardly beheading in Udaipur".

"In the annals of judiciary, the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are an indelible scar on justice system of the largest democracy. Urgent rectification steps are called for as these have potentially serious consequences on democratic values and security of the country," the letter said.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on Sharma, stating that her outburst during a TV debate was responsible for an unfortunate incident in Udaipur, where a tailor was beheaded. The court said Sharma's "her loose tongue" had set the entire country on fire and she was single-handedly responsible for what was happening in the country. Sharma should "apologise to the whole country", it said.

The group said that Sharma was justified in approaching the top court as multiple FIRs had been registered against her for her remarks in a TV debate, whereas the Constitution clearly lays down that no person can be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once. They also cited SC's verdicts in TT Anthony versus State of Kerala, and Arnab Goswami versus Union of India where courts had upheld the constitutional prohibition against multiple prosecutions and punishment. "The allegations constitute only one offence for which separate prosecutions were launched. Article 20(2) of the Constitution prohibits prosecution and punishment more than once for the same offence," said the signatories who include former chief justice of Mumbai high court Kshitiz Vyas, Gujarat HC ex-judge SM Soni, ex-Gauhati HC judge Shreedhar Rao, former Rajasthan HC judge RS Rathore, and former economic affairs secretary R Gopalan.

The group also faulted the bench for directing Sharma, while denying her plea for clubbing nine FIRs registered against her in four states, to approach the high court. "The SC instead of safeguarding the fundamental right of the petitioner, forced her to withdraw her petition and approach appropriate forum (HC) knowing full well that an HC does not have the jurisdiction to transfer or club FIRs and cases registered in other states," said the signatories.

The criticism came two days after Justice Pardiwala's complaint against the trend of judges being criticised on social media and how it could leave them "shaken".

The signatories, however, were unsparing in their criticism of the bench for the observations and pointed out that they bore no relation to Sharma's petition. "The observations, judgmental in nature, on issues not before the court, are crucifixion of the essence and spirit of the Constitution. Forcing a petitioner by such damning observations, pronouncing her guilty without trial and denial of access to justice on issues raised in the petition can never be the facet of a democracy," they said.

The group also objected to court saying that law enforcement agencies had favoured Sharma by not arresting her. "A rational mind is bewildered not only at the jurisprudential transgression but also the sweep of the same as judges hit out no holds barred at agencies and making innuendo references to her 'clout'," the group said.

More from The Times of India

The Times of India
The Times of India
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon