Monday, December 5, 2022

“Indelible scar on the Justice System”, say retired judges

An open letter, signed by 15 retired judges, 77 former bureaucrats and 25 army veterans, condemned the “unfortunate and unprecedented comments” made by the two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court—Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.B. Pardiwala—while hearing for BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s petition for transfer of various FIRs registered against her in different states to Delhi.

The letter called out the two judges for surpassing their “Laxman Rekha”, causing shockwaves in the country and outside and compelling the signatories to issue an open statement.

The 117 signatories include former Bombay High Court Chief Justice Kshitij Vyas, former Gujarat High Court judge SM Soni, former Rajasthan High Court judges RS Rathore and Prashant Agarwal, and former Delhi High Court judge SN Dhingra. 

Former IAS officers RS Gopalan and S Krishna Kumar, former top police officers SP Vaid and PC  Dogra, Lt General VK Chaturvedi (retired), and Air Marshal SP Singh (retired) are also among them.

The letter said that the observations made by the two Judges had no connection jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition and it transgressed “all cannons of the dispensation of justice”.

Nupur Sharma was denied justice by the SC bench, which is her fundamental right under Article 20 of the Constitution that prohibits prosecution and punishment more than once for the same offence.

According to the signatories of the letter, the comment made by the SC bench that Nupur Sharma is “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country” has no rationale. By making such an observation, the letter said, the Court virtually exonerated “the dastardliest beheading in broad daylight” and flared up emotions by diluting the gravity of the gruesome act that was committed in Udaipur.

The letter also raised concerns about the bench’s no-holds-barred commentary upon other agencies in the country, without giving any prior notice to them.

The signatories criticised the two judges for making innuendos about Sharma’s “clout” and said, “the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are an indelible scar on the justice system of the largest democracy… forcing a petitioner by such damning observations, pronouncing her guilty without trial, and denial of access to justice on the issue raised in the petition can never be a facet of a democratic society…”

The letter also pointed out that only the Hon’ble Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to transfer or club the FIRs/ cases registered in other States. Yet, the two judges refused to take cognisance of Sharma’s petition, forced her to withdraw it and asked her to approach appropriate forums (High Court). “Such an approach”, the letter read, “deserves no applause and impacts the very sanctity and honour of the Highest Court of land.”

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