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PM Modi backs lawyers’ letter on ‘bid to pressure judiciary’

Published:

NEW DELHI: In an unusual development,

PM Modi

on Thursday endorsed a protest of 600 lawyers against what they called an attempt by “lawyers with vested interests” to pressure

judiciary

and

defame courts

, especially in corruption cases involving politicians, by defaming judges.
“To browbeat and bully others is vintage Congress culture. Five decades ago, they had called for a ‘committed judiciary’ – they shamelessly want commitment from others for their selfish interests but desist from any commitment towards the nation,” the PM said in a post on X, which followed leading lawyer Harish Salve, Bar Council chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and others writing to

CJI

D Y Chandrachud, flagging alleged attempts to influence judiciary’s decisions.

The lawyers from across the country wrote that pressure tactics adopted by some other lawyers who defend politicians by the day, and then try to influence judges at night is “troubling”. The letter pointed out this was being done at “very strategic timings” – now, ahead of Lok Sabha polls and also in 2018-’19, when “false narratives were floated”.
Lawyers claim bid to damage public’s trust in judiciary

Sources explained the unprecedented letter was prompted by the pattern in which certain high-profile lawyers start writing articles in media about judiciary’s “declining standards and loss of independence” in lead up to influential judgments to create an atmosphere in which judges would be constrained to adjudicate cases in the way these lawyers would like them to be decided.
“This heated interest group operates in various ways. They create false narratives of a supposed ‘better past’ and ‘golden period of the courts’, contrasting it with happenings in present. They are nothing but intentional statements, made to sway court decisions and to embarrass the courts for certain political gains,” the lawyers wrote.

PM’s reference to “committed judiciary” was also aimed at countering the narrative of “golden past” by recalling the public advocacy of “committed judiciary” by late Mohan Kumaramangalam, senior Congress leader and a close confidant of ex-PM Indira Gandhi.
BJP sources also said PM and signatories of the letter had also sought to remind all that Gandhi had junked the ‘seniority principle’ to appoint Justice A N Roy as CJI in 1973 by superseding Justices J M Shelat, K S Hegde and A N Grover who were part of the majority in Kesavananda Bharati case; and that Justice H R Khanna, another member of the majority in the same case who had also irked powers by holding that right to life cannot be suspended during Emergency, was also superseded in 1977.
They also referred to the 42nd and 44th amendments to Constitution, which rewrote its many vital features, during Emergency to emphasise the context of PM’s post on X.
“We, the undersigned, are a group of lawyers who are writing to you, expressing our deepest concern on the manner in which a

vested interest group

is trying to pressure the judiciary, influence judicial process and defame our courts on the basis of frivolous logic and stale political agendas. Their antics are vitiating the atmosphere of trust and harmony, which characterises the functioning of the judiciary. Their pressure tactics are most obvious in

political cases

, particularly those involving political figures accused of corruption. These tactics are damaging to our courts and threaten our democratic fabric,” the letter read.
Salve and other lawyers also complained to CJI about alleged attempts to malign judiciary by lawyers with vested interests. “They have also concocted an entire theory of bench-fixing which is not just disrespectful, but contemptuous too. It is an attack on honour and dignity of our courts. They have also stooped to the level of comparing our courts to those countries where there is no rule of law. These are not just criticisms: they are direct attacks meant to damage public’s trust in our judiciary and threaten the fair application of our laws,” the lawyers wrote.

“There is a clear ‘my way or the highway’ approach at work. Any decision they agree with is hailed but any decision they disagree with is trashed, smeared and disregarded. This cherry picking has been visible in very recent judgments too. We request Supreme Court to stand strong and take steps to protect our courts from these attacks. Staying silent or doing nothing could accidentally give more power to those who mean to do harm. This is not the time to maintain dignified silence as such efforts are happening since few years and too frequently,” they added.

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