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“Don’t Scandalise”: Lawyers’ Body Supports Top Court Over Rape Comment Row



Don’t take political mileage from court proceedings, Bar Council said (File)

New Delhi:

Coming in support of the Supreme Court, the Bar Council of India on Thursday asked activists, who wrote to Chief Justice S A Bobde urging him to withdraw remarks made in a rape case, not to “scandalise” the highest judiciary and take “political mileage” of its proceedings.

The bar body, in a resolution adopted during a meeting, termed the letter written by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Bobde as a “malicious attack” on the judiciary and said the freedom of speech and expression cannot be stretched to the extent of “maligning and weakening” the institution.

On Wednesday, a court official had said that the query of a three-judge bench, headed by the CJI, asking a rape accused whether he would marry the victim was based on ”judicial records” containing an undertaking of the man that he would marry the minor girl, a relative, after she attains 18 years of age.

The remarks by the CJI-headed bench came on Monday during the hearing of a plea of the accused, who had challenged the cancellation of his anticipatory bail by the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench.

The official had also termed the criticism by social and political activists as unfair, and referred to the judicial records of the case.

However, the remarks invited sharp reactions with Ms Karat writing to the CJI and urging him to withdraw his remarks by saying courts should not give an impression of supporting such “retrograde” approaches.

Several women’s rights activists, eminent citizens, intellectuals, writers and artists had also written an open letter to the CJI demanding an apology and retraction of his remarks.

The Bar Council of India (BCI), through its chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra, said that it decries the practice of political and social activists making comments without appreciating the factual background of the case leading to queries by benches during proceedings.

“Please don’t try to scandalise the institution, don’t take political mileage from court proceedings of the highest judiciary; the country will not forgive you. India is a vast country, so the signature move of a few hundreds of persons is meaningless and worthless,” the resolution said.

“In the recent past, we have seen development of a new trend with regard to reaction of some people against comments and observations of Supreme Court judges in the course of judicial proceedings even when such comments are not part of judicial orders,” the BCI said.

The bar council’s resolution also mentioned that a handful of politicians and some “so-called” social activists are feeling elevated by criticising and making reckless comments against judges through social media and print media.

“In our opinion, such attempts are a direct attack on the independence of the judiciary. It has become a fashion for some motivated people to make personal aspersions against our judges. If this trend is allowed to continue, the institution will lose its sanctity,” it said.

The resolution said writing letters to the CJI or any judge and making such communication public through the media are “acts of gross contempt”.

“We deprecate such actions of Ms. Brinda Karat and similar acts of chief minister of Andhra Pradesh against the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court,” it said.

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