Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
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"When imputations and gradings are made, we damage the very institution," Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on criticism of Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

Responding to the criticism of the Supreme Court by retired Judges, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul in a webinar today said that when imputations and gradings are made, it damages the institution.

Making a veiled reference to the article written by Justice (retd.) Madan Lokur on the web portal The Wire, grading the Supreme Court an "F" in dealing with the migrant workers' crisis, Justice Kaul today said that such imputations and gradings damage the institution.

Justice Kaul was speaking on the subject of "Freedom of Speech in times of COVID19 - Fake News and Misinformation" in a webinar organized by the Madras Bar Association when he made these remarks.

Justice Kaul was expressing his concern over growing intolerance across the ideological spectrum when he rued that this intolerance is also affecting the institutions, including the Judiciary. The Judges, however, while discharging their duties, have no opportunity to respond to these criticisms, the Judge said.

He said that while criticism of judgments and opinions is acceptable, the issue arises when former members of the institution start making imputations and "gradings".

Criticism of a view point, of a judgment is okay, there is no problem. But when imputations and gradings are made, I think we damage the very institution.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Justice Kaul believes this to be a case of "after me the deluge" when he implicitly referred to Justice Lokur's criticism of the way in which the migrant crisis was handled by the Supreme Court. Such criticism crosses a certain line, Justice Kaul said who also purportedly implying that making such critical statements against the Judiciary was a way of staying in news.

To remain in news has also become a problem and the tendency is more critical and in a manner that crosses certain lines. This is like misinformation pandemic and I hope there is rethink of this process.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Cautioning against a system that ends up in a situation of anarchy, Justice Kaul said that institutions should not be unnecessarily vilified and a boundary needs to be maintained lest it will become part of disinformation. If there is mistrust in every system, every organ, then you don't have a system, you have an anarchy, Justice Kaul said in his lecture.

Justice Kaul was part of the three-Judge Bench that heard the suo motu case concerning the plight of migrant workers amid COVID-19 related lockdown.

The cognizance of the issue was taken by the Apex Court on May 26 while the case was heard and orders passed on May 28. It was on the morning of May 28, ahead of the hearing in the Supreme Court, that Justice Lokur's article critical of the Top Court appeared in the web portal.

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