CJI Bobde and NV Ramana
CJI Bobde and NV Ramana

"Judges have become the subject of juicy gossip": CJI SA Bobde and Justice NV Ramana comment on criticism of judges

CJI SA Bobde and Justice NV Ramana opined that judges have become a soft target for criticism, especially since the advent of social media.

Shruti Mahajan

Speaking at a virtual book launch event, the two senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court expressed their thoughts on the growing trend of criticising judges.

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justice NV Ramana were delivering their Presidential and Keynote addresses at the launch of Justice (retd) R Banumathi's book Judiciary, Judges and the Administration of Justice.

Justice Ramana said that the book is deeply informative and also gives an insight into the working of the judicial system. He suggested that while Justice Banumathi has captured these aspects succinctly, currently there appears to be a misunderstanding pertaining to judges.

Judges are presumed to lead a luxurious life, Justice Ramana said and added that this is far from true since judges have to be careful to balance their social lives in order to be independent. He further said,

"Judges are self-restrained from speaking out in their own defence... Today, judges have become soft target of criticism and especially with social media advent, judges have become subject to juicy gossip."
Justice NV Ramana

He went on to point out that judges have no way of voicing their opinion and can speak only through their judgments and judicial work, a thought that was echoed by CJI SA Bobde.

In his address, CJI Bobde said that judges are required to undertake the job of delivering justice regardless of which court they are sitting in. "It's not an easy job," the CJI said. Referring to the book "Judges" written by David Pannick, CJI Bobde said that judges are called upon to do the things that others tend to avoid doing.

Judges have to maintain their independence and consistently "rise above themselves in their work". Referring to the criticism that has come the Judiciary's way quite often in the recent past, CJI Bobde said,

"Freedom of Speech of the Judges is curtailed by the same laws and machinery that uphold the freedom for others who use it to criticise the Judiciary and Judges."

These comments from the two senior most judges of the Apex Court come at a time when the Judiciary and the Supreme Court are engulfed in controversy. Advocate Prashant Bhushan was recently held to be in contempt of Court for two of his tweets that criticised CJI Bobde as well as former Chief Justices of India.

In what could be construed as a veiled reference to this episode, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul in a webinar hosted by the CAN Foundation had opined that while dissent was fundamental to any democracy, the manner in which this dissent was being voiced these days showed signs of debasement.

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