Sinha to ministers: Shed fear

Yashwant Sinha in Noida on Saturday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Sidelined BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday urged ministers and party leaders to "get rid of their fear" and "speak up for democracy", stressing the issues raised by the four Supreme Court judges were no longer an internal matter of the judiciary.

"I will ask party leaders and senior ministers to speak up. I will appeal to them to get rid of their fears and speak up," he said, adding it was the duty of every citizen who felt for democracy to speak up.

Sinha said he was aware of the "fear in which members of the cabinet in this government are working" and felt that their silence was also "a threat to democracy".

He said that like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who is the first among equals in the court, the Prime Minister too is the first among equals in the ministry and that his cabinet colleagues should shed their fear and speak up.

Saying that the four senior top court judges who came out publicly against the chief justice should be taken seriously, the former finance and external affairs minister said democracy indeed was threatened. "If Parliament is compromised, the Supreme Court is not in order, then democracy is threatened," he told reporters.

In the past, Sinha had slammed the Narendra Modi government over demonetisation, GST and the handling of the Kashmir problem.

The BJP chose silence on Sinha's comments on Friday, maintaining that the leader was disgruntled because of personal issues and did not deserve to be taken seriously.

Sinha explained the seriousness of the issues raised by the judges and said the allegation that sensitive cases were being assigned by the Chief Justice to particular benches was a "very serious" charge.

"There cannot be a more serious charge than this that sensitive cases are assigned to a bench of choice. Who wants it? Who wants a favourable judgment?" Sinha asked, replying himself: "Someone whose case has gone to the Supreme Court. So whose case has gone to the Supreme Court? It is clear like sunlight which cases were being talked about."

On Friday, the four judges were asked if they were referring to the deceased Justice B.H. Loya, who had been hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in which BJP chief Amit Shah was an accused. The case is now before the Supreme Court. One of the judges replied in the affirmative.

Rejecting suggestions that politicians should not meddle in the affairs of the judiciary, Sinha said that when the four judges had gone public with their grievances, the issue was no longer limited to the judiciary. The leader felt every citizen should raise his voice.


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