The relationship between the Central government and the judiciary have always come under scanner when a government with absolute majority in parliament assumes power.
The same has been the case with the Modi government too with almost all politically sensitives cases coming under intense media scrutiny.
Recent instances of judges and courts openly praising the Prime Minister Modi has evoked strong reactions.
Critics of the government have pointed out how it does not bode well for an independent judiciary to make such statements which blatantly divulge its bias in favour of the government – something which it has been accused of frequently in the recent past.
However, the supporters of the ruling party have showcased such open praises as approval of the government policies.
Here are 5 instances of the courts/ judges praising PM Modi.
1. Justice MR Shah (August 2018)
This was one of the first instances of a judge of a Constitutional court openly heaping praise on the PM.
Justice MR Shah, who was then the Chief Justice of Patna High Court referred to Modi as a model and a hero.
He was responding to a question posed by a journalist from BBC Hindi after having taken over as CJ of Patna High Court in August 2018.
“…Modi is a model. He is a hero. This is what is being said about him for the past one month. There are thousands of clippings on social media. The papers are also publishing the same, daily,” Shah reportedly said.
Shah is currently a judge of the Supreme Court of India having been elevated to the top court in November 2018.
2. Justice Arun Mishra (February 2020)
This might perhaps be the most infamous of all the incidents since it happened in Delhi and the judge was a sitting Supreme Court judge who had already been panned by many for alleged proximity to the ruling dispensation.
Justice Arun Mishra said that PM Modi “is a versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally”.
He was rendering the vote of thanks at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day International Judicial Conference organised by the Supreme Court.
Justice Mishra was thanking the dignitaries who spoke before him on the occasion, including Prime Minister Modi.
"We thank the versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally, Shri Narendra Modi for his inspiring speech which would act as a catalyst in initiating the deliberations and setting the agenda for the conference," he said.
3. Justice MR Shah (February 2021)
Justice Shah features twice in the list, the latest being certain remarks made by him in February 2021.
While his remarks in 2018 had come under media scrutiny, the latest one did not receive much attention.
In his speech, Justice Shah referred to PM Modi as a “popular, loved, vibrant, visionary" leader.
The remarks came during the Gujarat High Court's Golden Jubilee celebrations which saw the attendance of PM Modi.
"I am glad and feel proud and privileged to participate in this important function of release of commemorative stamp of Gujarat High Court on completion of its 60 years and that by our most popular, loved, vibrant and visionary leader, Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendabhai Modi. I consider it a very special privilege to be part of this function," said Justice Shah speaking on the occasion.
4. Kerala High Court (December 2021)
While the praise mentioned above were not part of any judicial orders but were remarks made by judges personally during speeches delivered by them or while answering media, Kerala High Court chose to make some remarks favouring PM Modi during the hearing of a case and such remarks also reflected in the judgment given by it on December 21 in that particular case.
The case was a petition that sought to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph from the vaccination certificates issued on the CoWIN portal.
Single-judge Justice PV Kunhikrishnan during the hearing of the case on December 13, demanded from the petitioner what was wrong in having PM Modi’s image on the vaccine certificate.
“What is the problem if Prime Minister Modi's name is there on the vaccine certificate? You work at an Institute named after Jawaharlal Nehru, he is also a Prime Minister. Why not ask the university to remove that name also," the judge remarked orally.
Upon hearing the contention of the petitioner's counsel that the vaccination certificates issued in other countries do not contain the photographs of their respective leaders, the Justice Kunhikrishnan orally observed,
"They are not proud of their PM, we are proud of ours. He became PM because of the mandate of the people. We have different political opinions but he is still our prime minister," the judge said.
In his judgment authored on December 21, the single-judge observed that “when the country is facing a pandemic situation and at that time, the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, gave a message in the vaccination certificate with his photographs to boost the morale of the citizen”.
“In such situation, while issuing a certificate for COVID-19 vaccination, if the Prime Minister of India gave a message with his photograph that with the help of medicine and strict control, India will defeat COVID-19, what is wrong with it,” the judgment said.
The Court also emphasised on citizens’ duty to respect the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister of India is not a person who entered the parliament house by breaking the roof of the parliament building. He came to power because of the mandate of the people. The Indian democracy is being praised by the world. The Prime Minister is elected because he has got people's mandate,” the judgment said.
5. Allahabad High Court (December 2021)
This was the latest of the instances when a Constitutional court/ judge chose to laud the Prime Minister.
Justice Shekhar Yadav of the Allahabad High Court in a judgment rendered on December 23, 2021, praised the initiatives of PM Modi for his efforts towards "free vaccination" in a country with a huge population like India.
“The Prime Minister of our country, has run the campaign of free corona vaccination in a country with a huge population like India, which is commendable and the court praises him and request the Hon'ble Prime Minister to take strong steps in view of the situation of this dreadful epidemic, and consider exploring possibility to stop and postpone rallies, meetings and the upcoming elections because unless there is life, there is no meaning to the world," the High Court said.
Interestingly, the observations came in a case totally unrelated to the PM or his policies – a bail petition of an individual.