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Over 600 lawyers write to CJI against ‘vested interest group’

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To browbeat, bully others is vintage Congress culture: PM on letter to CJI

New Delhi, March 28: More than 600 lawyers, including senior advocate Harish Salve and Bar Council chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra, have written to the Chief Justice of India, alleging that a “vested interest group” is trying to put pressure on the judiciary and defame courts, especially in cases of corruption involving politicians.
“These tactics are damaging to our courts and threaten our democratic fabric,” the lawyers drawn from across the country said in the latter dated March 26.
CJI Chandrachud’s leadership is crucial in these “tough times” and the apex court should stand strong, they said, adding it is not the time to maintain dignified silence.
The letter, shared by official sources, targeted a section of lawyers without naming them and alleged that they defend politicians by day and then try to influence judges through the media at night. This interest group creates false narratives of a supposed better past and golden period of courts, contrasting it with the happenings in the present, the letter said. It claimed that their comments are aimed at influencing courts and embarrassing them for political gains.
Adish Aggarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla and Swarupama Chaturvedi are among the signatories to the letter titled “Judiciary Under Threat-Safeguarding Judiciary from Political and Professional Pressure”. Though the lawyers behind the letter have mentioned no specific cases, the development comes at a time when courts are dealing with several high-profile criminal cases of corruption involving opposition leaders. Opposition parties have accused the central government of targeting their leaders due to its political vendetta, a charge refuted by the ruling BJP. These parties, whose ranks include some noted lawyers, have joined hands against the recent arrest of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case.
Targeting the critics, the signatories to the letter accused them of suggesting that courts in the past were easier to influence. This shakes the public’s trust in courts, they said.
“We are writing to you expressing our deepest concern on the manner in which a vested interest group is trying to pressure the judiciary, influence judicial process and defame our courts on the basis of frivolous logic and stale political agendas.
“Their antics are vitiating the atmosphere of trust and harmony, which characterises the functioning of the judiciary. Their pressure tactics are most obvious in political cases, particularly those involving political figures accused of corruption. These tactics are damaging to our courts and threaten our democratic fabric,” they said. Their antics are vitiating the atmosphere of trust and harmony, which characterises the functioning of the judiciary, they said in their letter to CJI Chandrachud.
The critics have also concocted an entire theory of “bench fixing” which is not just disrespectful and contemptuous but an attack on the honour and dignity of courts, the letter said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is a “vintage Congress culture” to browbeat and bully others, remarks that came in reaction to more than 600 lawyers writing to the Chief Justice of India, alleging that a “vested interest group” is trying to put pressure on the judiciary and defame courts.
“To browbeat and bully others is vintage Congress culture. 5 decades ago itself they had called for a “committed judiciary” – they shamelessly want commitment from others for their selfish interests but desist from any commitment towards the nation,” Modi said on X.
“No wonder 140 crore Indians are rejecting them,” the prime minister said and tagged a post that carried the letter written by the lawyers. (PTI)
“These tactics are damaging to our courts and threaten our democratic fabric,” the lawyers drawn from across the country said in the latter dated March 26.
CJI Chandrachud’s leadership is crucial in these “tough times” and the apex court should stand strong, they said, adding it is not the time to maintain dignified silence. (PTI)
The letter, shared by official sources, targeted a section of lawyers without naming them and alleged that they defend politicians by day and then try to influence judges through the media at night.
“Some elements are trying to influence who the judges are in their cases and spread lies on social media to put pressure on them to decide in a particular way,” they alleged in the letter.
Questioning the timing, the lawyers said it is all happening when the country is headed for the elections.
“We are reminded of similar antics in 2018-2019 when they took to their ‘hit and run’ activities, including fabricating wrong narratives. These efforts to belittle and manipulate the courts for personal and political reasons cannot be allowed under any circumstances,” they said.
One important court case with political implications in the run up to the 2019 polls was the demand for a probe into the purchase of Rafale fighter aircraft over alleged corruption but the Supreme Court had dismissed the batch of pleas in November 2018, saying there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal.
The letter-writers urged the Supreme Court to stand strong and take steps to protect courts from these alleged attacks.
These efforts to belittle and manipulate the courts for personal and political reasons cannot be allowed under any circumstances, they said.
“Staying silent or doing nothing could accidentally give more power to those who mean to do harm. This is not the time to maintain dignified silence as such efforts are happening since few years and too frequently,” they said, adding that the CJI’s leadership is crucial in these “tough times”. PTI KR TIR

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