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Vested interests aiming to influence judiciary: Over 600 lawyers including Harish Salve, Pinky Anand to CJI

The letter titled "Preserving the Independence of the Judiciary: Protecting Against Political and Professional Influence" has been signed by a group of well-known legal professionals, including senior advocate Harish Salve, Manan Kumar Mishra, Chetan Mittal and Pinky Anand among others.

Reported By : Devendra Parashar Edited By : Arushi Jaiswal
New Delhi
Updated on: March 28, 2024 11:20 IST
CJI, DY Chandrachud
Image Source : PTI (FILE) Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud

Lawyers letter to CJI: Over 600 prominent lawyers, including Harish Salve, Manan Kumar Mishra, Adish Agarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla, and Swaroopama Chaturvedi, have collectively penned a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), expressing concern over attempts to undermine the judiciary’s integrity. 

In a letter to CJI DY Chandrachud, the lawyers flagged their concerns over attempts by a "vested interest group" to influence the judiciary. The lawyers claimed that the group is employing pressure tactics to influence judicial outcomes, particularly in cases involving political figures and corruption allegations. These actions, they argue, pose a significant threat to the democratic fabric and the trust placed in judicial processes.

 The lawyers also highlighted several concerning methods, including the propagation of false narratives about a so-called ‘golden era’ of the judiciary, aimed at discrediting current proceedings and undermining public confidence in the courts. 

"It's troubling to see some lawyers defend politicians by the day, and then try to influence judges through the media at night. Implying that the courts in the past were easier to influence shakes the public's trust in them," the letter to CJI read.

The group of lawyers highlighted that certain tactics utilised involve selectively criticising or applauding court rulings according to their political motives, labeling it as a "my way or the highway" strategy. "There is a clear "My way or the highway" approach at work - any decision they agree with is hailed but any decision: they-·disagree with is trashed, smeared and disregarded. This cherry picking has been visible in very recent judgments too," they said.

Lawerys on  'bench fixing'

The letter highlighted that the group was peddling an entire theory of "bench fixing". "They have also concocted an entire theory of 'bench fixing' - which is not just disrespectful and contemptuous - it's an attack on the honour and dignity of our courts. At times, it also leads to slanderous attacks and insinuations on respected judges. 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. 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," they said. 

They also expressed concerns over political flip-flopping and said, "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 criticise 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."

Highlights of the letter :

  • A group of lawyers expresses concern over attempts by a vested interest group to influence the judiciary and defame the courts, particularly in politically sensitive cases involving corruption.
  • The interest group is accused of creating false narratives about the judiciary’s past to undermine current court proceedings and public trust.
  • Accusations include ‘bench fixing’, disrespectful comparisons of domestic courts to those in lawless regimes, and direct attacks on judges’ honour.
  • Tactics employed by the interest group involve selective criticism or praise of court decisions based on their political agenda, described as a “My way or the highway” approach.

Concerns are raised about:

  • Political flip-flopping, where politicians alternate between accusing individuals of corruption and defending them in court.
  • The use of underhand tactics and dissemination of false information to influence judicial appointments and outcomes.
  • The lawyers note the strategic timing of these tactics around election periods, drawing parallels to similar activities in 2018-2019.
  • senior members of the bar have requested the Supreme Court to take protective measures against these attacks to maintain the judiciary’s integrity.
  • The letter calls for a united stand in support of the judiciary to ensure it remains a strong pillar of democracy, urging decisive leadership in addressing these challenges.

Also Read: Lawyers, judges rise above differences in quest for justice: CJI DY Chandrachud

Also Read: 'One second, don't shout at me': CJI Chandrachud rebukes lawyer during poll bonds hearing | VIDEO

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