An article by Shekhar Gupta’s The Print attacking Supreme Court judge A.K. Sikri for his vote that led to removal of CBI director Alok Verma was also tweeted by the Congress President Rahul Gandhi. This article tried to paint that that Justice Sikri was given a plum posting, the vacant post of president/member in the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT), by Modi government. Thus, this may be the reason behind Justice Sikri voting in favour of the government leading to removal of CBI director Alok Verma.
According to a report by Bar & Bench which frequently writes about news related to legal affairs,
- Appointment to CSAT is not an assignment on regular basis.
- There is no monthly remuneration for the same.
- There are two or three hearings only a year.
This suggests that job at CSAT is not about rewarding an Indian Judge with money or luxurious lifestyle in London. Rather, it is more about nominating a person from Indian judiciary as a representative of India as it is a member nation of Commonwealth countries.
Further, according to an Indian Express report, government had obtained the consent of Justice Sikri for the appointment to CSAT in the first week of December 2018. And, it is in January 2019 that Supreme Court nominated Justice Sikri to the panel along with Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition to decide on the future of reinstated CBI director Alok Verma. Thus, there is no apparent correlation between the two events as painted by the story of The Print.
Pained by the harassment, Justice Sikri has withdrawn his name from his assignment to CSAT. Thus, the Congress President and ecosystem won another round of match against the Judiciary.
Here we recall the earlier events when Indian judiciary was attacked by the Congress & ecosystem in the backdrop of the judgements which were not suiting their narrative.
Congress Party brought an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India which was widely seen as a revenge petition in the backdrop of Justice Loya’s death case in which Supreme court denied the investigation rejecting the baseless allegations.
Commenting on this unprecedented attack on the judiciary, Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India and a respected jurist said, opposition is doing “great harm” to the institution of independent judiciary and its public perception.
He further said, “What is the gross misbehaviour, the ground for impeachment? That a judgment was not in favour… People should learn to understand an unfavourable order, to accept defeat… SC has given good reasons. If you don’t accept, where is the finality?”
It is interesting to recall at this point that Congress has a history of attacking the independence of the judiciary. Even in the past, it attacked the judiciary. In the background of an unfavourable judgement in Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973, Indira Gandhi apparently superseded three supreme court judges to make A.N. Ray (who gave his dissent in Kesavananda Bharati Judgement) the next Chief Justice of India.
Thus, the attack on Justice Sikri by making a false correlation between his appointment to CSAT and his vote in the SC constituted panel that led to the removal of the CBI director Alok Verma further proves the point that Congress wants to bend the judiciary as per its whims and personal ambitions. The recent offensive launched on Justice Sikri by the Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi is in fact ironical in nature. Its current leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who dissented against the panel’s decision to remove the CBI director, Alok Verma, has actually taken a brazen U-turn in the matter, considering he was the one who had vehemently opposed his appointment in the first place.