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The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued a statement against “controversial” and “irrelevant” statements made by Justice Jasti Chelameswar, condemning the same as being against the dignity of the post he had held.
The statement begins with a general lament concerning the forgotten virtue of self restraint by judges.
“Self restraint by the Hon’ble judges of the highest court seems to be a forgotten virtue. They have to prevent themselves from issuing statements without giving any thought to the consequences such statements could entail.”
However, the focus immediately shifts to the statements and actions of Justice Chelameswar thereafter.
“The manner in which Hon’ble Justice Chemeleshwar went to the media and gave controversial and, irrelevant statements Immediately upon retirement, was not expected of a person holding such a high post and was infact against the dignity of the post he had held.
Such statements and comments are liable to be deprecated. Such statements cannot be tolerated, accepted or digested by the Advocates including the rest of the countrymen [sic].”
Particular reference has been made to the fallout of the four judges’ press conference held last January and allegations of bench fixing which flowed from it.
Justice Chelameswar’s decision to hear “certain matters” instead of objecting to the litigant’s insistence that it be listed before him, has also been criticised as a form of bench fixing. As per the statement,
“Justice Chemeleshwar has resorted to usage of such controversial words like” Bench fixing”. Now if a handful of Lawyers of the highest court filed matter/s and mentioned it before Justice Chemeleshwar and other chosen judges, and tried to get it listed, then that would have been “Bench fixing”. Such instances have been repeated not once but on two-three occasions.
Justice Chemeleshwar should have raised an objection at that point in time. But Justice Chemeleshwar did not do so and, infact accepted and agreed to hear certain matters himself which led to the beginning of a wrong practice. Had such irregular or unlawful orders been sought to be set aside by the Chief Justice or by some other judge then there would have been no harm done. [sic]”
Further, particular objection has also been raised to a meeting between Justice Chelameswar and Rajya Sabha MP and CPI leader, D Raja after the Press Conference.
“Before issuing any statements relating to judges meeting politicians, Justice Chemeleshwar should himself do an self-introspection. The fact that Justice Chemeleshwar met CPI Leader and Rajya Sabha M.P. D Raja immediately after his Press Conference, clearly deciphers the mystery and the motive behind the controversial statements being issued by Justice Chemeleshwar. [sic]”
The statement however goes on to declare that the attempts to malign the institution by advocates, politicians and judges with vested interests have woefully failed. It observes that most of the legal fraternity have seen through the ulterior motive and mindset of such persons.
“The amount of damage which has been done to the institution since last January, would take a long time to be repaired and rectified. However, we have full and utmost faith that the Lawyers of the country, especially the younger generation would criticise and dislike such kind of statements and do their level best to salvage and protect the dignity and decorum of the Highest Court of the Land.
For the purpose of self consolidation and for fulfilling selfish and vested interests, not only some political leaders, but some Advocates and even infact some judges have attempted to misuse and malign the institution by they have woefully failed.
It is the great fortune of the country that 99.9 of the legal fraternity and the judges have seen through this ulterior motive and mindset and such people who have attempted to bring disrepute to the institution for their vested interests, have had to suffer a setback at each step. [sic]”
As it concludes, the statement calls for self-introspection by judges before issuing any statements against the judiciary.
“The judiciary of the land is by far the holiest and the most powerful institution and in which even today, each citizen of the country has full and unflinching faith. Any and every judge should first do a self introspection and look at himself/herself, their actions, deeds before making or issuing any statements against the judiciary and they should make concerted efforts to safeguard and maintain the dignity and decorum of the institution.”
The statement has been signed by Manan Kumar Mishra (Chairman), Satish A Deshmukh (Vice-Chairman), Apurva Kumar Sharma (Chairman, EC), TS Ajith (Co-Chairman), and Amit Rana (Co-Chairman).
Read full statement below: