A well-crafted narrative by Congress about ‘attack on institutions’ is in vogue these days. However, the reality is quite different and diametrically opposite to what is being manufactured by the Congress Party.
Here we bring to readers several instances showing how Congress government has been a real threat to the democratic institutions.
Impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra
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 the party had asked for further investigation. However, the Supreme court had 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?”
The impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra was a grim reminder of the “high command” culture of Congress which also reflected on the judiciary when the judges were expected to follow the same high command dictats.
Anti-Sikh Riots and Justice Ranganath Misra
The example of Justice Ranganath Misra shows how Congress ecosystem had brazenly abused the judiciary. The Ranganath Misra commission of inquiry was appointed by the Rajiv Gandhi government to inquire into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi after Indira’s assassination. Citizens Justice Committee (CJC), a body of eminent jurists and lawyers, was invited to assist the commission. The CJC withdrew from the Commission’s hearings after bitterly criticising its procedures.
Later, Justice Tarkunde, a former high court judge and part of CJC, had strongly condemned the verdict – “This has been a one-sided investigation. We were never really given a chance to participate in it as we had been promised.”
Another member of the CJC, advocate Soli Sorabjee as quoted by the India Today, had then said that key interviews had been conducted behind closed doors and “we were not given an opportunity to cross-examine anybody.”
It cannot be mere coincidence that Rangnath Misra later became a Congress MP in Rajya Sabha between 1998 to 2004.
Operation Blue Star and Justice Venkataramiah
The Congress government had detained some people in context of the Operation Blue Star; a habeas corpus petition was filed by Ram Jethmalani in 1984 against these illegal detentions. According to an opinion of legal luminary A.G. Noorani, Justice Venkatramiah had passed a scandalous order dismissing the petition. Noorani further adds, he had not only refused relief to detainees, but stigmatised them as secessionists and traitors without hearing them in their defence. Justice Venkatramiah was made CJI later.
No wonder, Congress wanted to interfere with the judiciary and made attempts to develop some sort of ‘loyalty’ to the family’ whereby loyals are duly rewarded.
The curious case of Justice Baharul Islam
The tendency of appointing its favourite people to judiciary has been a typical character of the Congress party. Baharul Islam resigned as Congress MP of Rajya Sabha in 1972 to become a Guwahati high court judge. Although he had retired in 1980, he was made a judge of the Supreme Court after Indira Gandhi came to power again. Given his loyalty and ‘commitment’ to Congress in his judicial pronouncement in Jagannath Mishra case, he was made a Rajya Sabha MP again post-resignation. The elevation of a Congress MP Baharul Islam to judgeship of the Guwahati High Court, then as a Supreme Court judge and later again as Rajya Sabha MP is a glaring example of an attack on the very independent character of the judiciary.
ADM Jabalpur Case and Justice M. H. Beg
Justice Beg along with other judges gave a verdict favouring Indira Gandhi government on suspending the fundamental right to life (ADM Jabalpur case) during Emergency. Justice Beg was promoted as CJI superseding Justice H.R. Khanna – the lone dissenter in the case. Justice Beg, Indira Gandhi’s favourite, initiated a suo motu contempt case against the editor of Times of India Sham Lal in 1978, for questioning his stand in ADM Jabalpur Case.
Kesavanand Bharati case and Justice A. N. Ray
Nonetheless, in the background of an unfavourable judgement in Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973, Indira Gandhi superseded three Supreme Court Judges to appoint A.N. Ray (dissenting judge) the next CJI. He had then shockingly attempted to review the Kesavanad Bharati case judgement even when no one had filed a review petition! It should be noted here that Kesavananda Bharati case judgement is widely seen as one which saved the Indian democracy by making Basic Structure principle a core of the Indian constitution. No surprises, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi didn’t like any limitations being placed on her government by the Indian judiciary.
Observation of 14th Law Commission
“Far from avoiding the precincts of Government House, judges have come to treat invitations from Government House as ‘commands’. Newspapers tell us of Chief Justices and judges being ‘granted’ interviews by Ministers. Though a few judges still maintain the old isolation, a large majority sees nothing incorrect in freely mixing with the Executive.”
The process of a systematic attack on the democratic institutions of modern India to subdue them to the wishes of ‘dynastic family’ is entrenched in the Congress culture. When judiciary independently stands for rule of law against the Congress party, dynastic attitudes, loyal, proxy ‘activists’ come into action attacking the institution to have a ‘committed judiciary’. However, judiciary as an institution has survived these attacks to deliver justice to citizens of India.