President Ram Nath Kovind with CJI Justice N V Ramana and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)
Calling upon judges “to exercise utmost discretion in what they say in courtrooms”, President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday quoted the saying by an American judge that “history teaches that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardised when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day, and assume primary responsibility in choosing between competing political, economic and social pressures”.
Speaking at the valedictory session of the Constitution Day celebrations at the Vigyan Bhavan here, organised by the Supreme Court, Kovind said: “In Indian tradition, judges are imagined as a model of rectitude and detachment more akin to sthitpragya (steady wisdom)… We have a rich history of legions of such judges known for remarksfull of sagacity and conduct beyond reproach, which have become the hallmark for the future generations.”
Stressing that “there is no doubt that you have set for yourself a high bar”, the President said: “Hence, it is also incumbent upon judges to exercise utmost discretion in what they say in courtrooms. Indiscreet remarks, even if made with a good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary.”
Going on to quote what Justice Frankfurter of the US Supreme Court said in the 1951 case Dennis versus United States, he said: “Courts are not representative bodies. They are not designed to be a good reflex of a democratic society. Their essential quality is detachment, founded on independence. History teaches us that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardised when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day, and assume primary responsibility in choosing between competing political, economic and social pressures.”
Kovind also touched upon what Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said at the Constitution Day event on Friday, regarding “attacks on the
judiciary… particularly (in) social media”. The President said: “It pains me no end… to note that of late there have been cases of some disparaging remarks against the judiciary made on social media platforms.”
In his address at the valedictory event, the CJI referred to pendency of cases, and said: “Legislature does not conduct studies or assess the impact of the laws that it passes. This sometimes leads to big issues.” Justice Ramana also said “rebranding the existing courts as commercial courts, without creating special infrastructure, will not have any impact on the pendency”.
The CJI urged Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, present at the event, to expedite the process of filling judicial vacancies.
Rijiju said there was a need to balance fundamental rights with fundamental duties. He said several people trampled on rights of others for their own rights, adding that it must be discussed why a law passed by Parliament or Assembly could not be implemented because some sections feel it affects their rights.
“When the Supreme Court decides something, it is the law of the land. When Parliament or an Assembly passes a law, it also becomes the law of the land. How can we see a situation where the Supreme Court or High Court or Parliament or Assembly passes a law, and yet there is difficulty in implementing it,” he said, without going into specifics.
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