New Delhi: Outgoing Supreme Court judge Justice J Chelameswar has said every government wants to have some control over the judiciary and “it is not a desirable state of affairs”.
In an interview with CNN-News18, Justice Chelameswar, who had raised the issues of governmental interference and reproached the Central government for stalling judicial appointments, was asked if a government with a huge majority tends to tinker with the independence of the judiciary.
“Every government would like to have some kind of control on the judiciary… After all, any government would like to have control as much as possible on all the organs of the State,” replied the judge, who demitted office on June 22.
Asked about his letters to the CJI imploring upon him to effectively tackle the Modi government’s attempt to delay appointments of judges, Justice Chelameswar said what he wrote in his letters were facts.
“Yes, whatever I have said, I said it. These are facts. What reasons prompted these actions is a matter of greater debate. Question is whether this is a desirable state of affairs or not. I believe it is not a desirable state of affairs,” he stated.
Justice Chelameswar maintained that he does not want to sound adversarial when he talks specifically about the present government’s actions.
“Whether this particular government or any other government, these attempts will always be made. That’s what history teaches us and it is in recognition of this very principle that the Constitution makers said an independent judiciary is an important aspect of democracy,” he added.
He further said that this is a phenomenon which always existed. “The nature of power is such that men in power would want to control everything…thus the question is whenever such attempts are made, whether the institution is able to resist such attempts or not. I have made my own efforts,” said Justice Chelameswar.
He pointed out what requires to be thought over is whether control over judiciary is consistent with the liberal democratic system or not. “And nobody disputes this proposition at least in theory that an independent judiciary is an essential requirement of a democratic system,” he summed up.
In a letter addressed to CJI Dipak Misra in March, Justice Chelameswar had castigated the central government for its “impropriety” and “contumacious” attitude. He cautioned that “bonhomie between the judiciary and the government in any state sounds the death knell to democracy”.
The judge had then urged the CJI to constitute a full court to take up on the judicial side the issues pertaining to governmental interference in the judiciary’s domain and certain instances of “executive bidding” by a few judges.
“We, the judges of the Supreme Court of India, are being accused of ceding our independence and our institutional integrity to the Executive’s incremental encroachment. The Executive is always impatient, and brooks no disobedience even of the judiciary if it can. Attempts were always made to treat the Chief Justices as the Departmental Heads in the Secretariat. So much for our independence and pre-eminence as a distinct State organ,” rued Justice Chelameswar in his letter.