ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Supreme No More

A weakened judiciary bodes ill for the future of constitutional democracy.

Without control over “either the sword or the purse,” the judiciary relies solely on the perception that it is a neutral, independent and impartial arbiter of disputes, whether civil, criminal or constitutional, to function as such. It enjoys the faith of the people only because it can reinforce the faith of the people on an everyday basis in the way it conducts itself. The dignity of the court rests not on the use of its powers of contempt or the trappings of office, but in the way in which judges and lawyers conduct themselves and uphold the institution when faced with external challenges. Judges are held to higher standards of conduct than civil servants and elected representatives precisely because of this feature of the judiciary, and when they fail to meet these standards, the institution suffers.

The recent actions of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), some of the judges, and certain members of the bar have dragged the institution of the Supreme Court of India to the nadir of its integrity. In one short week, the spectre of judicial corruption at the highest level was raised, judicial discipline was breached by judges, the CJI made a mockery of the principle that no one shall be a judge in their own cause, lawyers threatened and intimidated those trying to hold the judges to account in court, and finally a disreputable order that tries to interfere with the course of an investigation was issued in the name of putting a quietus to the whole issue. There is no other way to put it: the Supreme Court as an institution has simply lost credibility.

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Updated On : 29th Nov, 2017
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