Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said on Saturday that he has never faced any executive pressure during his 23-year-long career as a judge.
Any such pressure is only towards arriving at the correct decision while adjudicating cases, the CJI said while speaking at the India Today Conclave.
“By the end of this month, I will have been a judge for 23 years. No one has told me to decide a case in a particular way. We have coffee with our colleagues, but there are some lines to be drawn. We have coffee with a colleague whose judgment I am considering on appeal. There is no pressure on me from the executive at all. But yes, there is pressure on conscience or mind to find the correct solution. There is bound to be more than one solution, and we know that what we do is something that will followed in years to come. It is the search for truth,” he said, according to Bar and Bench.
The 50th Chief Justice of India cited the recent judgment of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the appointment of election commissioners case.
“The question of pressure does not even arise; see the Election Commission judgment. The largest litigant is the State and we are holding against the State in large number of issues: crime, employment, insurance,” he said.
No pressure from executive: CJI
“We are living in an age where we have become distrustful of public institutions. There is absolutely no issue, and we are constantly holding the government to accountability,” he said.
On Law Minister Kiren Rijiju raising objections to Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports about a judge being quoted in a Collegium resolution, the CJI said that he respects Rijiju’s views, but the move was in response to criticism of alleged opaqueness in the Collegium’s functioning.
“He has a perception. I have a perception. We are bound to have differences. There are differences within the judiciary as well. I respect his perception, but we deal with a great deal of constitutional statesmanship. We have made resolutions public due to the critique that we lack transparency.”
The question to the CJI was with specific reference to the recommendation to elevate Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal to the Delhi High Court.
The central government had objected to the recommendation citing Kirpal’s sexual orientation. Kirpal is gay and lives with his Swiss partner. The IB report regarding the same was quoted by the Collegium, which reiterated its recommendation despite the adverse report.
Responding to the criticism about quoting IB reports, the CJI said that the report quoted by the Collegium was only with respect to sexual orientation of a candidate and not something endangering someone’s life.
“The candidate you are referring to, it was already known to public domain, his sexual orientation in public. This was not a case of someone’s life in danger. Here IB report was of a man who was openly gay, it was known to media. We just said the sexual orientation of the candidate has nothing to do with holding high office of a judge,” he said.
CJI spoke about trolling on social media as well
The CJI briefly touched upon being trolled on social media recently, to make a point about oral observations not being indicative of the final outcome of a case.
“I do not follow Twitter. It is important for us to not be affected by the cacophony of extreme views. Social media is a product of our time. Thirty years ago, you had some newspapers, but now there is live-tweeting of each word we speak. So it is a dialogue between the bar and the bench, which happens in a court. We interrupt each other, we joke, some camaraderie. What is expressed during a hearing is not the ultimate verdict. One type of judges are those who are the devil's advocate, and the other judge is the one who will stretch it to the logical conclusion. Now when there is an expression of opinion by a judge, the social media makes it like that is the final verdict or how it will be....Social media or citizens do not follow that. I do not blame them. We need to have a more open system,” he said.
He added that while he does watch TV news debates at times, and reads a lot as well, the same is kept aside while deciding on a case.
“I sometimes watch TV debates. I read broadly to try and get a broad cross-section on what is happening in the society. But when a case starts, we have to keep all this aside and decide the case based on what it is. It is also a confrontation of your own biases. Judges are also humans you see. When you judge others, you cannot be judgmental of others,” the CJI said.
On whether he wants the younger generation, and specifically his sons (both practising advocates), to join the bench, he said, “Earlier, judging was about honour. But now a lot of the younger generation says thank you chief but maybe it is not for me. I tell them if you do not become judges today, then you will get judges you deserve and you cannot complain 10 years down the line. Service conditions are good. About my sons, it is a choice for them to make.”
The CJI made it clear that he believes one can do great good by being a lawyer or a judge.
“So you become a lawyer who earns and earns and earns, or appear pro-bono for such convicts waiting for remission. Similarly for a judge. I was asked, ‘Do you want to be known for the cases disposed of as in numbers, or someone who made a difference?’”
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