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Judiciary under threat: 600 lawyers allege pressure tactics on courts in letter to CJI

Though the lawyers behind the letter have mentioned no specific cases, the development comes at a time when courts are dealing with several high-profile criminal cases of corruption involving opposition leaders

PTI New Delhi Published 28.03.24, 12:18 PM
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A group of lawyers, including senior advocate Harish Salve and Bar Council of India chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra, has written to the Chief Justice of India, alleging that a "vested interest group" is trying to put pressure on the judiciary and defame courts "on the basis of frivolous logic and stale political agendas".

"Their pressure tactics are most obvious in political cases, particularly those involving political figures accused of corruption. These tactics are damaging to our courts and threaten our democratic fabric," their letter, dated March 26, addressed to CJI D Y Chandrachud said.


The letter, shared by official sources, targeted a section of lawyers without naming them and alleged that they defend politicians by day and then try to influence judges through the media at night.

This interest group creates false narratives of a supposed better past and golden period of courts, contrasting it with the happenings in the present, the letter, signed by about 600 lawyers, said. It claimed that their comments are aimed at influencing courts and embarrassing them for political gains.

Adish Aggarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla and Swarupama Chaturvedi are among the signatories to the letter titled "Judiciary Under Threat-Safeguarding Judiciary from Political and Professional Pressure", the official sources said.

Though the lawyers behind the letter have mentioned no specific cases, the development comes at a time when courts are dealing with several high-profile criminal cases of corruption involving opposition leaders.

Opposition parties have accused the central government of targeting their leaders as part of its political vendetta, a charge refuted by the ruling BJP. These parties, whose ranks include some noted lawyers, have joined hands 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 suggesting that courts in the past were easier to influence. This shakes the public's trust in courts, they said.

"Their antics are vitiating the atmosphere of trust and harmony, which characterises the functioning of the judiciary," they said in their letter to CJI Chandrachud.

They have also concocted an entire theory of "bench fixing" which is not just disrespectful and contemptuous but an attack on the honour and dignity of courts, 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 with unfair practices," it said.

These critics have adopted the "my way or the highway" approach at work as they hail the decisions they agree with, but any decision they disagree with, is trashed, smeared and disregarded, they said.

"This two-faced behaviour is harmful to the respect a common man should have for our legal system," the letter said and claimed that this cherry picking has been visible in very recent judgments too.

"Some elements are trying to influence who the judges are in their cases and spread lies on social media to put pressure on them to decide in a particular way," they alleged in the letter.

Questioning the timing, the lawyers said it is all happening when the country is headed for the elections.

"We are reminded of similar antics in 2018-2019 when they took to their 'hit and run' activities, including fabricating wrong narratives. These efforts to belittle and manipulate the courts for personal and political reasons cannot be allowed under any circumstances," they said.

They urged the Supreme Court to stand strong and take steps to protect courts from these alleged attacks.

"Staying silent or doing nothing could accidentally give more power to those who mean to do harm. This is not the time to maintain dignified silence as such efforts are happening since few years and too frequently," they said, adding that the CJI's leadership is crucial in these "tough times".

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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