SC Processes Can’t Be Arbitrary, Back Judges’ Demand: Karuna Nundy
“Remember, the judge who dissented during Indira’s Emergency, is hailed as a hero today”, says lawyer Karuna Nundy.
(Hours after four sitting Supreme Court judges addressed an unprecedented press conference and criticised the condition that the apex court is currently in, The Quint caught up with top lawyer Karuna Nundy to discuss the matter. The following is an excerpt of what she told us.)
What is being sought with this letter from the four Supreme Court judges is something that is very basic. It’s a transparent and predictable allocation of cases to particular benches. In the Supreme Court, there are a large number of benches, there are a large number of judges. Therefore, there’s got to be a system by which cases are allocated to particular judges.
Predictability at the Heart of Justice
Now, what four out of five of the seniormost judges are saying is that that predictability has been getting lost in recent times. That predictability, they are saying, goes to the heart of justice. Many of us feel that to be true.
When a litigant, or the general public, comes for justice to the Supreme Court, which is the last court, then they must believe that justice was done, and not that their case has suddenly been allocated to someone in an arbitrary way.
Now, a lot of people are saying that Justice Loya’s case was the case that triggered this. And while it may have triggered the press conference, it certainly did not trigger this letter.
This letter was issued, I think, on 6 November, and the story on the cloud around Judge Loya’s death was broken by The Caravan on 20 November, 2017.
Here, there are a number of cases that they (the SC judges) are likely to be concerned with.
Remember Indira's Emergency?
Look, a lot of people have been talking about propriety. What's at stake is much larger, it's the future of our Republic — when we look at the gravity of our constitutional present, we must take a longer view.
Indira Gandhi had tried to suspend our fundamental rights and the only reason she succeeded was because almost all our judges at the time had agreed to this. One judge didn’t. The one judge that dissented, Justice HR Khanna, is a hero of our times.
And it is this dissent that has been elevated to a majority judgment in the Puttaswamy case, in which our Supreme Court overruled ADM Jabalpur and a very dark part of our history. It is dissents like this that have kept our constitutional identity the way it is. Because otherwise, we would have had a Supreme Court unanimously saying that the fundamental rights of citizens may be suspended.
May we never have such a dark period again.
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