600 lawyers petition CJI Chandrachud to uphold judicial integrity

| Updated: 28 March, 2024 1:55 pm IST

NEW DELHI: More than 600 lawyers from various parts of India, including well-known advocates Harish Salve and Manan Kumar Mishra, have reached out to the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud.

They have raised concerns regarding what they see as challenges to the integrity of the judiciary. The group of lawyers has openly criticised a “vested interest group” for allegedly manipulating judicial processes, influencing court decisions, and maligning the judiciary with unfounded accusations and political motives.

The letter highlights that such manipulative tactics are most noticeable in cases concerning politically connected individuals facing corruption charges. These tactics aim to sway court decisions and undermine the judiciary’s credibility.

The lawyers pointed out the creation of false narratives that misrepresent the judiciary’s operations, unfavourably comparing current practices to a so-called ‘golden age’ of the courts. These narratives are purportedly crafted to affect judicial outcomes and diminish public confidence in the judiciary.

The correspondence also expresses alarm over the “concocted theory of bench fixing,” where there are efforts to meddle with the composition of judicial benches, thereby questioning the judges’ integrity. The signatories of the letter find these actions disrespectful and detrimental to the rule of law and justice principles.

The letter said, “They have also stooped to the level of comparing our courts to those countries where there is no rule of law and accusing our judicial institutions of unfair practices.” The lawyers further note, “These aren’t just criticisms; they are direct attacks meant to damage the public’s trust in our judiciary and threaten the fair application of our laws.”

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The phenomenon of political flip-flopping is also a concern, where politicians’ legal positions fluctuate based on their interests, thus eroding the legal system’s credibility. “It is strange to see politicians accuse someone of corruption and then defend them in court. If the court’s decision doesn’t go their way, they quickly criticize the courts inside the court as well as through the media. This two-faced behaviour is harmful to the respect a common man should have for our legal system,” the letter mentioned.

They allege that “some elements are trying to influence who the judges are in their cases and spread lies on social media to put pressure on the judges to decide in a particular way.” The letter also scrutinizes the timing of these tactics, noting their strategic implementation when elections are imminent, reminiscent of similar strategies in 2018-2019.

The legal fraternity urges the Supreme Court to adopt decisive measures to shield the judiciary from such external influences and maintain the rule of law. The letter concludes with a call to action, “Staying silent or doing nothing could accidentally give more power to those who mean to harm. This is not the time to maintain dignified silence as such efforts have been happening for few years and too frequently.”

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