Now Supreme Court judges get a photo gallery of their own

For the past three days,the buzz in the Supreme Court has had nothing to do with any case whatsoever.

Written by Tannu Sharma | New Delhi | Published: January 18, 2009 1:42:54 am

For the past three days,the buzz in the Supreme Court has had nothing to do with any case whatsoever. What has kept everyone,including the judges,talking are their photographs,placed at the most ‘strategic’ location of the apex court—right outside the courtroom of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

Putting up large photographs of judges in full public view in the court is a first. They have been hanging outside courtroom no. 1—the CJI’s court—since Thursday morning,giving everyone,right from advocates to clerks,a topic for that little chit-chat while they waited for cases to come up.

Delhi Police constables posted outside the courtrooms were seen taking turns to take a look at the photographs. One of them said,requesting anonymity,“We are witnessing history. We have been told that this has happened for the first time in the Supreme Court.”

However,the display has evoked strong reactions from some quarters. Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan was annoyed. He found the entire act to be “so pitiful”. “It’s so ugly it actually brings down the stature of the judges of the apex court,” he said.

“Displaying their photographs in the gallery,in full public view,is rather cheap and ridiculous. Everyone was seen making fun of it,” the former law minister said. “To me,the photographs were more like a matrimonial ad,” he said.

Anil Divan,another senior counsel,found it out of place. “It’s atrocious,” he said. The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association,P.H. Parekh,was more guarded in his reaction,saying,“Judges should be known by their judgment and not by their faces or photographs.” He added that the Bar was not consulted on the decision to have photographs outside the courtroom.

Terming it “a very unusual step”,senior advocate Pinki Anand wondered that when there were already photographs in the judges’ gallery inside,“what was the need for having them outside?”

The CJI,who took a round himself to see the photos the day they were put up,told some judges,“Many people travel from far-flung areas,they would know who are the judges in the SC.” Justice Altamas Kabir jokingly added,“I hope nobody puts ‘most-wanted’ tags under the names!” Additional Solicitor General Amarinder Sharan found it as “breaking the monotony”.

A practising advocate,Abani Kumar Sahu,said,“Because of several controversies,the photos of all the judges have been put in public glare so that they conduct themselves properly.”

Nobody knows as to what prompted photographs to be displayed outside the courtroom but former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma said,“It’s actually surprising when on the one hand they oppose disclosure of basic details like their assets and wealth but want to be seen right outside their courtrooms. What for,nobody knows.”

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