In a relief for Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, the Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed against them for their remarks on judiciary and the Collegium system for appointment of judges and the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne dismissed the petitions saying: “We are not inclined to grant any relief. The petition is dismissed. Reasons would be recorded later.”
The HC was hearing a PIL filed by Bombay Lawyers Association taking exception to the “frontal attack” launched on the judiciary in “most insulting and derogatory language” without using any recourse available under the Constitution. The plea contended that such conduct of the two executive officials has lowered the prestige of the apex court in public.
The plea had sought for orders to restrain Dhankhar from discharging duty as the vice president, and Rijiju from discharging duty as cabinet minister for the central government.
'Dhankhar, Rijiju lowered reputation of judiciary'
Petitioner’s advocate Ahmed Abdi argued that Dhankhar and Rijiju had lowered the reputation of the judiciary with their remarks, ASG Singh said the plea was frivolous and a publicity stunt.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the central government and the respondents (Dhankhar and Rijiju), said that they respect the Constitution of India which is the supreme and there was no question of them attacking the Constitution.
The petition is frivolous, a waste of the court's time and nothing but a publicity stunt. Exemplary cost should be imposed,” he argued.
What Dhankhar, Rijiju said about Collegium
Abdi argued that Dhankhar and Rijiju are constitutionaries and hence should abstain from making such remarks. “We are not against debate and criticism but it should be held in Parliament and not in such public domain. This is lowering the judiciary's reputation and image and affecting the faith people have in judiciary,” argued Abdi.
This was a very dangerous trend that would ultimately lead to anarchy, he claimed.
Rijiju recently said the collegium system of appointing judges was "opaque and not transparent". Whereas, VP Jagdeep Dhankhar had questioned the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case verdict that gave the basic structure doctrine.
Dhankhar had said the verdict set a bad precedent and if any authority questions Parliament's power to amend the Constitution, it would be difficult to say "we are a democratic nation".