New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur on Tuesday warned that unless new Chief Justice of India SA Bobde restores the top court’s credibility and stature urgently, it could lead to the death knell of the independence of the judiciary.
Critical of some of the recent verdicts and administrative decisions of the top court, Lokur in an article for the Hindustan Times said “our judges need to show some backbone and spine, particularly in dealing with issues of personal liberty”.
Justice Bobde had taken oath as the 47th CJI on Monday at a time when the image of the apex court has suffered a hit following the spell of controversies surrounding two of his immediate predecessors, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Dipak Misra.
Lokur, who had retired from the SC in December 2018, asked if Indian citizens can continue to have any confidence and trust in a judiciary that “tends to bend, but not yet crawl?”
Without taking any names, he said no can be thrown in jail without any effective remedy, and kept there because of “information passed on to the judges in a sealed cover, or because there is no time (except perhaps to copy-paste), or because of misinformation, or because a person is safer in jail.”
CJI Bobde, he added, must ensure that judges at all levels are given the confidence that they will not be “punished” for an honest decision, even if that decision is incorrect.
“Justice Bobde must instil faith in all judges that they will be fully protected in the discharge of their duties, without fear or favour, and restore faith in “we the people”, that their personal liberty will be preserved and protected by the judges according to law and the Constitution,” he wrote for the newspaper.
“Dispelling muted apprehensions within the legal fraternity, and the fear of raids and arrest of lawyers and the citizenry by a caged parrot and its first cousin, will infuse that confidence,” he added.
The retired judge further said that CJI Bobde has to “keep open the channels of communication between the judiciary and the lay public”.
“Transparency is not a like a pendulum,” Lokur said, adding that the way collegium resolutions disclosed reasons for appointments of judges a few years ago had now changed to “virtual non-disclosure in the recent past”. “A balance has to be struck and a free and frank discussion must take place among the judges,” he said.