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Bar Council slams Supreme Court critics

Regulatory body said 'disgruntled' former judges and lawyers trying to disgrace institution for its handling of migrant crisis
The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India
The Telegraph file picture

Our Legal Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 01.06.20, 11:27 PM

The Bar Council of India has castigated critics who accuse the Supreme Court of failing to make governments accountable for the migrant workers’ sufferings, alleging “a conspiracy to weaken and browbeat the institution” and “defame the government”.

A statement from the chairman of the BCI — the regulatory body for advocates — said the country had never before seen such a “sustained and synchronised attack on the Supreme Court” by some “disgruntled” former judges and lawyers.

Mannan Kumar Mishra’s statement came after a discussion among BCI members late on Saturday night, sources said.

“Some people are using social media, electronic and print media to castigate and scandalise judiciary by imputing baseless motives on the Supreme Court judges. They are in virtual competition with each other in hurling (the) choicest of derogatory and indecent words to denigrate the Supreme Court,” the statement said.

“They know that Supreme Court judges are under compulsion to remain within the Lakshman rekha and are unable to come out to defend themselves.”

In an interview last month to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Justice (retired) Madan B. Lokur had said he was “disappointed” at the apex court’s response to the sufferings of people affected by the pandemic and the lockdown. He had accused the court of failing to fulfil its constitutional functions.

According to the BCI, such criticism is being made “with complete lack of sense”.

“It’s painful to see that only a few days after two advocates made unfair and unhealthy remarks against our apex court, Mr Justice Madan Lokur, a former judge of (the) Supreme Court, has joined this bandwagon fully knowing that such idle talk... undermine(s) the authority of the judiciary as a whole,” Mishra’s statement said.

“We have heard Justice Lokur giving sermons that no one from the Bench and Bar should ever indulge in an act that would shake the faith of the public in the judiciary. Now, he himself becoming part of these misguided group(s) of people is a mind-boggling departure by him (from) his own much-hyped principles.”

Senior lawyers Dushyant Dave and Prashant Bhushan, among others, have questioned the apex court’s handling of the subject of the migrant workers’ plight.

Mishra’s statement said the continuing criticism was all the more reprehensible because the apex court was currently dealing with the issues of the migrant workers.

The attacks are nothing “but an attempt to influence the Supreme Court to toe a particular line in this matter which would fulfil their agenda to defame the government which is grappling to ameliorate the sufferings of the common man”, the statement said.

“The indulgence of former judges is really very unfortunate. What the people have started to believe is that some former chief justices of high courts or some former judges of the Supreme Court, who could not get a suitable berth after their superannuation, become disgruntled and start going (to the) media and malign the system of which they were (an) integral part for quite a long period,” it said.

“ Such people should join politics... and face the common mass(es) of this country. The people will deal with them properly.”

It said the “statements issued by these few advocates and Mr Justice Lokur impute derogatory, defamatory allegations against the Supreme Court... to disgrace, defame and lower the reputation of the Supreme Court”.

“The people know everything, the motive behind every statement/ interview. Therefore, the Bar will request such people that instead of doing such mischief with the system, they should maintain the dignity and decorum of the Institution,” the BCI added.

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