From an unsuccessful impeachment motion against him to delivering key verdicts upholding constitutional morality and gender equality, outgoing CJI Dipak Misra leaves a “mixed legacy”, according to jurists and former law ministers.
“It is a mixed legacy. A legacy that has not been free from controversies because he is the only CJI who, unfortunately, had to face the prospect of an impeachment, and in whose tenure four judges of the Supreme Court were compelled to hold a press conference. Some of his judgments, particularly those rendered this month, mark a commendable and significant expansion of the libertarian and dignitarian ethos of our Constitution. Some of these judgments will certainly rank him as a Chief Justice who vindicated the spirit of the Constitution through his pronouncements,” said former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
“I appreciate the manner in which he conducted himself as the CJI, particularly in dealing with the situation after the unprecedented press conference, handling the situation in a dignified manner, without reacting to it,” said former Supreme Court Judge K T Thomas. “His recent judgements, especially the ones related to gender justice, have been widely appreciated… And, in my view, these judgments were pronounced with a sense of justice..,” he said.
Former Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the outgoing CJI was “not considered to be very friendly to social justice issues”. “In a country like ours, we have many issues with regard to SC/ST… On that, he should have been a little more careful while delivering judgments. Justice is not only for a few people, it is for everybody. Justice is required more by the people who have suffered in life — SC/ST, backward classes and others. On that score, I don’t think he could do much. Because the SC/ST judgment on quotas in promotion was not handled well,” he said.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising said he was “strong on gender justice but leaves much to be desired on civil liberties”. “He should have ordered an investigation into Judge Loya’s death and understood the deviousness in the arrest of activists. But still a statesman judge. He would make everyone feel in a win-win situation. He will remain a mystery to me,” she said.
“I would say that his tenure as CJI has not been the happiest one… He, to my mind, committed a very serious jurisprudential error, and error as a leader of the entire judiciary, in calling himself the master of the roll… And also by allocating some politically sensitive case matters to select benches,” said Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave.
Disagreeing with Dave, former CJI K G Balakrishnan said: “I have only been watching what the media reports. Like (on the controversy) of allocation, I don’t know why questions was raised. The Chief Justice has always been the master of the roster… It should have not been raked up as a public controversy. This is my personal view.”