Legal Consortium Raises Alarm Over Judicial Interference, Writes Letter to CJI

CJI Chandrachud

A consortium of over 600 legal minds, including senior advocate Harish Salve and Chairperson of the Bar Council of India, Manan Kumar Mishra, have penned a letter to the Chief Justice of India, asserting that a “vested interest group” is endeavoring to exert pressure on the judiciary and tarnish the courts “based on frivolous logic and stale political agendas.”

“Their tactics of pressure are most conspicuous in political cases, particularly those entailing allegations of corruption against political figures. These maneuvers pose a threat to our courts and undermine our democratic foundation,” their letter, dated March 26 and addressed to CJI D Y Chandrachud, asserted.

The missive, disseminated by official channels, took aim at a faction of legal practitioners without explicitly naming them, alleging that they defend politicians during the day and then seek to sway judges through media influence at night.

This interest group fabricates false narratives of an ostensible better era and a golden age of courts, contrasting it with current events, the letter contended, asserting that their assertions are aimed at influencing courts and causing embarrassment for political mileage.

The cohort of legal professionals behind the missive, titled “Judiciary Under Threat – Safeguarding Judiciary from Political and Professional Pressure,” numbers approximately 600 and includes Adish Aggarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla, and Swarupama Chaturvedi, as per official sources.

Although the lawyers behind the letter did not cite specific cases, the development arises amidst courts handling several high-profile criminal cases of corruption implicating opposition leaders.

Opposition parties have accused the central government of targeting their leaders as part of a political vendetta, a claim refuted by the ruling BJP. These parties, comprising some notable legal practitioners, have united against the recent arrest of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Targeting critics, these lawyers have accused them of insinuating that courts in the past were susceptible to influence. This erodes public trust in courts, they contended.

“Their actions are polluting the atmosphere of trust and harmony that characterizes the judiciary’s functioning,” they stated in their letter to CJI Chandrachud.

They have also concocted an entire theory of “bench fixing,” which is not only disrespectful and contemptuous but also an assault on the honor and dignity of courts, the letter asserted.

“They have also descended to the level of comparing our courts to those in countries where the rule of law is absent and accusing our judicial institutions of unfair practices,” it added.

These critics have adopted a “my way or the highway” approach at work, lauding decisions they concur with while disparaging any they disagree with, the letter noted.

“This two-faced behavior is detrimental to the respect the common man should have for our legal system,” the letter asserted, claiming that this selective approach has been evident in recent judgments as well.

“Some elements are attempting to influence the selection of judges in their cases and disseminate falsehoods on social media to exert pressure on them to rule in a certain manner,” they alleged in the letter.

Questioning the timing, the lawyers remarked that this is all occurring as the country gears up for elections.

“We are reminded of similar antics in 2018-2019 when they engaged in their ‘hit and run’ activities, including fabricating false narratives. These efforts to belittle and manipulate the courts for personal and political reasons cannot be countenanced under any circumstances,” they asserted.

They implored the Supreme Court to stand resolute and take measures to shield courts from these alleged assaults.

“Remaining silent or inactive could inadvertently empower those with malicious intent. This is not the time for dignified silence, as such efforts have been ongoing for the past few years and with increasing frequency,” they remarked, underscoring the crucial role of the CJI’s leadership in these “challenging times.”


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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte