On Friday, while speaking during a webinar on the issue of ‘Insulting the Judiciary from Social Media Diatribes’ the acclaimed Jurist Harish Salve said that a lot of people who are not elected representatives feel that they can impose their will on the government through the courts.
Mr. Salve stated that private data is a valuable property and such violation of privacy is a serious issue, however, Indians are not serious about it. He added that while one can criticize a judgment and even a judge, attributing motives to them is wrong. “To say judgment is to favor a political party or judge has acted in favor of a political party is wrong. Supreme Court is not a dartboard. You can criticize a judgment saying the judge has taken a conservative line,” he asserted. Mr. Salve stated that some individuals have gotten used to pushing the Supreme Court docket for reduction.
Citing to various articles, Mr. Salve stated that “When they do not get relief from Supreme Court, they say judges are not doing this because of this reason… Some people are pushing the boundaries by saying SC deserves ‘F’ grade for the way it is handling migrants’ issues. I have been reading these articles. They are wrong.” However, to say that the courtroom is petrified of the federal government is unsuitable, he said.
Further, while referring to the controversy on Justice Muralidhar’s transfer from the Delhi High Court to Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr. Salve said he was not in favor of judges overseeing the transfer of other judges. “You want the reasons for the transfer of judges in the public domain? I don’t think so. I, therefore, wanted a National Judicial Commission, which is independent of the government and not reporting to the court.”
“If you have no faith in us, you do what you want,” Mr. Salve noted while adding that comments made by judges should not be reported. “Supreme Court slams so and so’ is a headline you hear a lot. We need a code of conduct for Court reporters. Media only should write these regulations,” he professed.
Also, while talking about legal reporting, he said “We have a complete travesty in criminal law reporting. Your investigating agencies are completely off the hook. It’s trial by media. Angry people need instant justice. The way arrest is being covered; it is made to look like he has been sent to the gallows. We have completely lost the soul of the law of bail. The public trial is one thing, but a running debate with five panelists commenting is wrong.” He added that India must have tribunals for private defamations.
A lot of frustration of the citizens on poor governance can be addressed by the courts is a perception citizen have. Supreme Court is no lesser than the Parliament or no higher than the Parliament, he said.
He further added, “If I argue a case and I lose, I should think that I tried my best but I lost. But if I get a feeling that the judge did not give judgment in my favor because of…. what newspapers might write, then I am worried,” he said. “If a judge does not agree with me, he is dishonest” – This tendency must be curtailed. We owe it to the system. We have let our systems down, Mr. Salve asserted.
The senior advocate also said that one may disagree with the court’s judgment on whether 4G has to be allowed or not (in the context of Jammu and Kashmir), but to say that the Supreme Court has not stood with the people of the region is wrong.