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During a CAN foundation talk on Arun Jaitley, Rohatgi stated that the late Finance Minister was “deeply affected” by the Supreme Court striking down a law passed by the “will of the people", referring to the NJAC verdict
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi while speaking on late former Union Minister and lawyer Arun Jaitley's perspective on justice dispensation commented on Saturday that some of the judges of the Supreme Court themselves now realize that overturning the National Judicial Accountability Commission (NJAC) Act was not the correct decision.
Speaking at a webinar organized by the Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities ('CAN Foundation') on the former finance minister’s “Perspective on Justice Dispensation: Constitutional Expectations From Our Judiciary”, Mukul Rohatgi was questioned on what the late Arun Jaitley thought about the Supreme Court overturning NJAC citing a threat to the independence of judiciary.
Rohatgi stated that Arun Jaitley was “deeply affected” by the Supreme Court striking down a law passed by the “will of the people.”
Adding his own personal opinion, the former Attorney General said that the NJAC verdict would have led “Dr BR Ambedkar to turn in his grave.”
Supreme Court lawyer and one of the moderators, Advocate Saurabh Kirpal questioned Rohatgi on what had led to the recent instances of High Court rulings not being given due weightage and thereby leading to the “emasculation” of the High Courts.
Squarely blaming the Supreme Court for this, Rohatgi stated that there was a time when High Court and Supreme Court judges were on the same footing, but after the “judges case” - when the Supreme Court decided to be the last authority to appoint judges - there started a system where a High Court judge began looking at a “superior.”
Rohatgi maintained that a High Court judge is never subservient to the Supreme Court and that there should be no instances where the Supreme Court is treated like a court of first appeal.
Recollecting his days with Arun Jaitley, Rohatgi stated that Jaitely was someone who was always interested in politics and that he lost a year of his law studies due to the ADM Jabalpur judgment.
However, Jaitley maintained that though he was a commendable lawyer, his first love was always politics.
“I have never seen a lawyer with as terrific a memory like Mr Jaitley. Suppose we see Guide, a movie, he remembered the hat and attire of the hero too,” recollected Rohatgi.
When another moderator, Advocate on Record, Sriram Parakkat questioned Rohatgi on what Jaitley felt about post-retirement benefits to judges, the senior lawyer stated that Jaitley always believed that with post retiral benefits, there was always a possibility that an “honest judge may be prone in shifting from a correct balance in a hope that he or she will be picked up for a post retiral position.”
Rohatgi also shed light on how Jaitley often mentioned the phrase “tyranny of the unelected.”
On being questioned as to how the Supreme Court dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency around it, the senior lawyer stated that issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act or National Register of Citizens were areas that led to protests and could have been heard and disposed of by the Supreme Court even though COVID-19 kicked in from between.
He also commented on how Supreme Court made a late entry into the migrants' scene when already millions were walking home on roads.