Reacting to Chief Justice of India H L Dattu’s description of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “a good human being and a man with foresight”, the Opposition Saturday hoped that the CJI’s “personal opinion” would not “influence” the judiciary’s impartiality.
“He is entitled to his personal opinion and assessment about the Prime Minister. But I am sure he would not let it influence the impartiality of judicial pronouncements. I am sure (his views) will not affect his judicial impartiality,” senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh told The Sunday Express.
In an interaction with the media on Friday, Dattu had also said that the judiciary’s relationship with the government has been very good and that its demands have been taken care of by the government.
Many in the Opposition were surprised since it is rare for a CJI to speak this way about the PM, especially since the government is a major litigant in the apex court. “I rate him as a good leader, good human being and a man with foresight and one who wants good governance,” Dattu told reporters.
Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said constitutional boundaries must be maintained and exercised by all. “The Constitution has to be upheld. According to the Constitution, the judiciary has its role and responsibilities, the executive has its role and responsibilities, and we the Parliament have our responsibilities. That distinction and compatibility among the three wings must be judiciously maintained and exercised,” said Yechury.
Senior CPI leader D Raja was more scathing. “It is very surprising to see such observations coming from a sitting Chief Justice of India. Indian judiciary is known for its independence and impartiality… He might have his personal views, but that should not reflect in his public utterances when he is holding the high position,” Raja said.
Dismissing the Opposition’s concerns, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “In a courteous democratic system, praising each other is a good thing. It’s absolutely fine, I do not know why the Opposition has any problem with it. The CJI has rightly pointed out that the PM is a good leader. It is healthy in democracy that we have a large heart to praise each other.”