Justice K S Radhakrishnan, who retires as judge of the country’s highest court on May 15, has claimed that he faced “pressure, tension and strain” while hearing the case involving Sahara group chief Subrata Roy and two other directors, who are in jail for over two months in connection with a contempt case for non-refund of investor money.
Addressing the legal fraternity at a farewell function organised by a group of lawyers Thursday evening at the India International Centre (IIC), Justice Radhakrishnan, who was part of the two-judge bench along with Justice J S Khehar that heard the petition pertaining to Roy and others, said: “Referring to Sahara case, I can’t say more because case is pending. But pressure, tension and strain which I have undergone is unimaginable. Already this pressure reflects on my wife and family also. It was that much a complicated case. See, it is not over so I can’t speak much on the Sahara matter.”
He was responding to comments made by senior advocate K K Venugopal who, addressing the same audience earlier, had referred to the Sahara case and the judgment. The lawyer had praised the court for showing that nobody was above the law.
Among those sitting in the room were former Chief Justice of India and current chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Justice K G Balakrishnan, Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph, many former judges and senior advocates.
Earlier this week, the bench comprising Justices Radhakrishnan and Khehar turned down Sahara’s habeas corpus petition, saying it was not maintainable in law and that the group deserved no relief in view of its defiant and non-cooperative attitude.
The bench came down heavily on “calculated psychological offensives and mind games adopted to seek recusal of judges” which, it said, needed to “be strongly repulsed”.
“We deprecate such tactics and commend a similar approach to other courts, when they experience such behaviour,” the bench said.
Incidentally, the judgment also talks of pressure, pointing to litigants who “derive their strength from abuse of the legal process”.
“Counsel are available, if the litigant is willing to pay their fee. Their percentage is slightly higher at the lower levels of the judicial hierarchy, and almost non-existent at the level of the Supreme Court. One wonders, what is it that a Judge should be made of, to deal with such litigants, who have nothing to lose. What is the level of merit, grit and composure required to stand up to the pressures of today’s litigants?
What is it that is needed to bear the affront, scorn and ridicule hurled at officers presiding over courts? Surely one would need superhumans to handle the emerging pressures on the judicial system,” the judgment stated.