Senior advocate and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Dushyant Dave, at a virtual lecture on Friday, highlighted that it is pertinent to remember that Mahatma Gandhi had said that there is a court higher than the court of law — the court of conscience. In order to eliminate injustices, the need of the hour remains that of enlightened public opinion rather than relying on legislation, he said.
Dave was speaking on the occasion of the death anniversary of well-known human rights advocate Girish Pate, who had passed away in 2018. “He was a saviour of the downtrodden and the unprotected. He fought for human dignity and championed their cause… whether they were Adivasis in Dang or sugar workers in South (Gujarat)…He never abused PILs…,” he said.
He added that the benches and the Bar have failed in their role of keeping a constant watch over the transgressions in the judiciary. “Lawyers have failed society the most… Our judges, I’m sorry to say, have forgotten their conscience in the administration of justice, which they should remember every second in the dispensation of their duties…”
“The criminal justice system in India is hijacked by the rich and the powerful…,” he said.
Drawing from Constituent Assembly debates that surmised that judges should be above all political considerations, Dave added, “…The independence of judiciary has not only been affected from the outside, it has eroded from within. By not appointing fiercely independent judges since 1993, the collegium system has done great disservice to the administration of justice, the Constitution and the nation. Rule of law is under threat… The kind of (judicial) appointments made in the last 30-35 years have left much to be desired… and caused great damage to the institution… Where are the judges who are able to withstand political pressure of the day?… A petition was filed to help migrant workers on March 30 and the next day, the Supreme Court gives a complete certificate to the government that the migrant crisis is over.”
“If judges of the highest court shower praise on a political leader, what is the message they send to subordinate judiciaries and the high courts? The only message is: Do not decide cases against Prime Minister Modi’s government… Judges have stretched beyond the law to lean in favour of the executive,” he remarked.
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