The Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the February 9 order of the Bombay High Court that dismissed the PIL seeking action against Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju over their public comments.
“The credibility of the Supreme Court of India is sky high and it cannot be eroded or impinged by the statements of individuals,” a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay V Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep V Marne had noted in its order.
The petitioner had claimed the said statements by the two were “showing lack of faith in the Constitution by attacking institutions, including the Supreme Court”. The PIL had sought direction to restrain Dhankhar and Rijiju from discharging their duties as Vice President and Union minister, respectively.
The High Court bench had noted that the constitutional authorities cannot be removed by the court as suggested by the petitioner and the “fair criticism of the judgment is permissible” and it is a “fundamental duty of every citizen to abide by Constitution” and to “respect majesty of law.”
“The Constitution of India is supreme and sacrosanct. Every citizen of India is bound by the Constitution and is expected to abide by the constitutional values. The constitutional institutions are to be respected by all, including constitutional authorities and persons holding constitutional posts,” the bench had added.
The HC had observed that the PIL can be used for redressal of a genuine public wrong or public injury and it cannot be publicity oriented, and dismissed the PIL stating that there was no fit case to entertain the same.
In its Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the HC’s decision, BLA, through its chairman advocate Ahmed Abdi and advocate Manish Kumar Gupta, claimed that the remarks were not only derogatory to the Constitution but also affected the public at large and would lead to anarchy.
The SLP added, “Frontal attack is launched on the judiciary in the most insulting and derogatory language without using any recourse available under the Constitution.” The plea sought from the apex court to decide whether the HC order was “justified and legal” and pending hearing of its appeal, sought stay on the operation of the HC order.
The petitioner association claimed that the conduct of Dhankhar and Rijiju has “lowered the prestige of the Supreme Court in public”. Rijiju has repeatedly questioned the Collegium system even as Dhankhar raised the “basic structure” doctrine on the powers of the judiciary vis-a-vis the legislature and called the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act a “severe compromise” of Parliamentary sovereignty.