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Open letter to Bombay Bar Association on condemning judges for their political views

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To,                                                                                                 Dated: 13.03.2020

Office Bearers & Standing Committee,

Bombay Bar Association,

Room No 57, 3rd Floor,
High Court Building,
Dr M Kane Marg,
Mumbai 400 032.

Respected Ladies and Gentlemen,This is in reference to resolutions dated 5TH March 2020 (attached herewith), passed by the Bombay Bar Association, deprecating the comments of Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra of Supreme Court of India, made by him at the International Judiciary Conference on 22nd February 2020, wherein the Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra had praised the current Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, the head of the Executive in India.

In the above context, please note for the record, my sincerest disagreement with the resolutions passed by the Bombay Bar Association, which in my view appear to be rather myopic, in that the said resolutions dated 5th March 2020 appear to be condemning the Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra of the Supreme Court of India for merely exercising his right to free speech and expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Article 19.

Be that as it may, it may be necessary to point out that since the Bombay Bar Association has chosen to condemn the comments of Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra because “Comments of this nature shakes the confidence of the members of the legal profession and the public at large in the independence and integrity of the Higher Judiciary.”, the Bombay Bar Association would be well advised to also pass similar resolutions against a sitting judge of the Bombay High Court, Justice Gautam Patel (incidentally a former member of Standing Committee, Bombay Bar Association), who in the past has also made several comments in the public domain, which will likely also shake the confidence of the members of the legal profession and the public at large in the independence and integrity of the Higher Judiciary.

Following are a compilation of Comments/Quotes made by Justice Gautam Patel which have shaken confidence of the members of the legal profession and the public at large in the independence and integrity of the Higher Judiciary:

His criticism of the political leader Late Balasaheb Thackeray as a fascist for his alleged role in the 1992 Bombay riots (Incidentally, the last will and testament was a subject matter of Testamentary Suit in Bombay High Court which was also adjudicated upon by Justice Gautam Patel):

“Against those who instigated, triggered and participated in the carnage, and ravaged forever the face of an entire city, nothing followed. Nothing, that is, except two decades later, a valorization of Bal Thackeray that is as perplexing as it is disquieting. Not because he had legions of followers, but because in accepting the elision of the past of people like him, we move ourselves closer to fascism and an acceptance of everything we should not aim to be, everything our Constitution demands we not become.”


His criticism of the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on demolition of Babri Masjid and construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya:

“The findings and orders of the special full bench of the Allahabad High Court on the successful Bhagwan Sri Ram suit and the dismissed Wakf Board suit demand close examination. Central to the final order are two findings – that the disputed site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram, and that it is a juridical entity. Both conclusions are of extremely doubtful legal tenability. In addition, it is on the basis of the dubious legal proposition of faith and belief that the court arrives at a finding of legal and lawful ownership. The placing of idols in the disputed site in 1949 was as much an act of illegality as the events of 6 December 1992, but the court gingerly steps around them. In short, its September 2010 verdict surrenders judicial soundness and integrity for political expedience.”


His views on the political ideology of Communism:

“It is fashionable today to belittle and decry communism and Marxism, and even to equate it with anti-nationalism. This is a shame, because this attitude overlooks matters that are, or should be, fundamental…”


His views on Cow Slaughter Bill in Karnataka:

“Beef is food to many; not coincidentally, Dalits and Muslim.”

“there is no similar act about sheep, goats, fish or fowl – is less about animal rights than right-wingery and reactionary politics. It is a surreptitious destruction of entire communities by undermining their lives.”

“The now-beleaguered Yedurapp offered a bedazzling explanation. “Cow slaughter ban is in force in Cuba and Iran,” he said in 2010, and went on, with all the emphasis at his considerable command to outline the therapeutic advantages of a daily quaff of a holy cow’s micturition; divine bovine urine.


His views regarding 2002 riots in Gujarat:

“Based as we are in Bombay, at this distance from what transpired in Gujarat, in the initial days following the riots in 2002, we were at sea about what we could do and how we could contribute towards seeking justice for the victims of the events. Teesta Setalvad and others called a series of meetings at that point to explain clearly what the on-ground reality of Gujarat was and how, as concerned citizens, we could help make a difference. The other avenue where specialised help was required, of course was that of legal work. With respect to this second proposition, a number of us have been helping out as best we could and I’ve appeared for R.B. Sreekumar (former Gujarat director general of police) before the Central Administrative Tribunal. This man has been hounded for standing his ground against the government and the threats/pressure he’s been living under is astounding. Luckily, we got a good bench who weren’t easily swayed. They weren’t pressurised (or if they were, they withstood it really well) and justice was done.”

(Source: Teesta Setalvad’s magazine Communalism Combat published in Feb-March 2012)

That accordingly in view of the abovementioned compilation of political and partisan comments made by Justice Gautam Patel, members of the legal fraternity and also the public at larger will easily be able to ascertain the partisan ideological position of Justice Gautam Patel which will likely shake their collective confidence in the Judiciary and resultantly it is incumbent upon the Bombay Bar Association to similarly also pass a resolution deprecating the partisanship of Justice Gautam Patel whose political ideology may affect his ability to dispense justice.

Alternatively, the Bombay Bar Association may consider withdrawing its resolutions dated 5th March 2020 against Justice Arun Mishra and extend an unconditional apology to him.

Yours Sincerely,

Ravana Pandita

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