It was simply unprecedented. The opposition spearheaded by the Congress wanted the CJI to be impeached and what for? No misbehavior, no incapacity, no violation of constitution but for purely political reasons. The logic was clear. It was to intimidate judiciary.
Isn’t it laughable that you want to impeach CJI just because you don’t like his decisions? The recent verdicts of the apex court on reservation, SC/ST Atrocity Act, Triple Talaq, reopening of 1984 anti Sikh riots case and the taking up of the Hearing on Ram Temple on priority basis have alarmed the Congress/communists/radical Ambedkarite dalit groups /other so called secular social justice parties. The closure of Loya case was just the spark that ignited the wildfire.
Social media is abuzz with vicious hate propaganda unleashed against two of the most credible institutions of our democracy. When opposition loses the elections, they blame EVM. When a judgement goes against them, they blame judiciary. The social justice parties are ardent supporters of reservation in judiciary as they feel their caste groups are not adequately represented in it. The leftists along with the radical Ambedkarite dalit groups blame the SC for being Manuwadi in mindset. And the fact that the CJI is a Brahmin further aids their divisive rhetoric considering the kind of atmosphere that is being created against the Brahmins in the country.
The opposition knew that the minority community and the dalit /OBC community were peeved over with some of the decisions of the court and it is always politically wise to target Brahmins. The opposition engendered the perception and yes, the open revolt of four senior judges of the Supreme Court Court against their CJI helped it in the process, that democracy was in danger and judiciary was delivering pro Hindutva judgments as constitution of benches was done in a partisan manner.
The coming out of the internal differences within the judiciary into public domain provided a god sent opportunity to the opposition. It was alleged that CJI constituted benches and allocated cases without consulting any other senior judge. But then, though the CJI is just the first among equals, he is the master of roster. The internal matter of the apex court should have been left to itself to resolve but unfortunately, the opposition seemed more interested in vote bank calculation and keeping the Ram Temple issue in limbo.
Indian democracy is passing through tumultuous times. Politicians want to intimidate higher judiciary. Strong electoral communities are not willing to accept court verdicts that are perceived against their interests. Bandhs are called by groups supported by political parties to protest against verdicts of judiciary. Judiciary is blamed of acting against the interests of lower castes because of its domination by upper castes.
And remarkably, the law makers are hand in gloves with their constituencies in flouting of court orders and denigration of authority of courts. What a pathetic state of affairs? Vote bank politics has triumphed over Institutional sanctity. The attempt to impeach the CJI is an act that defies logic. No wonder the notice was rejected by the RS chairman. Any democracy can’t accept the lowering of dignity of the apex judiciary and attempts to tarnish its image and launch a slanderous campaign to malign its integrity weaken the public trust in the institution.
The parliamentarians can’t take judiciary lightly because Indian Parliament is not sovereign. Judiciary is a separate co equal authority. Neither the Parliament nor the Judiciary is supreme but both of them derive their authority from the Constitution. The judiciary despite its ups and downs has managed to retain its credibility to a great extent as compared to other institutions. Even today, the commoner has faith in it. Don’t shatter the image of the Supreme Court by drawing it into petty politics.
There have been impeachment of Justices in the past but those were preceded by solid evidences of corruption but this time, even the initiators of notice were confused over what they wanted. Putting up the charge sheet against the CJI in public purview before approaching the RS chairman was simply an ill advised step. The opposition agenda was unethical.
The judiciary on its part needs to put its own house in order first to restore its credibility. The nation can’t afford to go back to the role of judiciary during the seventies when the executive undermined the judicial autonomy with the sole intention of having a committed judiciary or to put in simple terms, the judiciary that furthers the agenda of the party in power. There may be faults with the Collegium system of appointment but at least, it keeps the politicians at an arm’s length from appointments made in judiciary.