Personal attacks on judges a dangerous scenario: SC judge
Justice JB Pardiwala, who was part of the Supreme Court bench that slammed former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Muhammad, on Sunday said that the personal attacks on judges for their judgments are creating a "dangerous scenario". He asserted that the top court has only to keep the "rule of law" in mind while deciding on disputes.
- Justice Pardiwala, along with Justice Surya Kant, had on Friday slammed Sharma, who moved the SC seeking transfer of all the FIRs against her to Delhi.
- The SC also said that Nupur Sharma was "single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country (referring to communal tensions)."
- It also refused to club the FIRs, prompting her to withdraw her plea from the top court.
Asserting the primacy of the rule of law over popular public sentiments, Justice Pardiwala said that trials by digital media called for undue interference in process of justice dispensation. "I firmly believe that it is for the highest court of the country to decide things keeping only one thing in mind...the rule of law....judicial verdicts cannot be the reflection of influence of public opinion..."
Talking about mandatory regulation of social and digital media, Justice Pardiwala cited various instances of media crossing "Laxman Rekha." Media trials are not healthy for rule of law, he said. In his address on the topic, "Vox Populi vs. Rule of Law: Supreme Court of India," he called on Parliament to consider introducing appropriate legislative to regulate digital and social media.
Justice Pardiwala said India still can't be classified as a complete and mature democracy. He added that people resort to social and digital media frequently to politicize legal and constitutional issues. He underlined the fact that social media is overrun by people "possessing half-truths," who don't really "understand rule of law, evidence, judicial process, and its inherent limitations."
Speaking at the second Justice HR Khanna Memorial National Symposium, Justice Pardiwala cited the Ayodhya dispute case and how it had taken a political color as the verdict was nearing. "Judges deciding the dispute may get a bit shaken, which is antithetic to the rule of law," he said, adding, many times, trial by media precipitates a perception of guilt or innocence.
When senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Sharma, told the SC that she had apologized for the remarks and withdrew her comments, the top court said that she should have gone to the TV and apologized to the nation. The bench also said her remarks showed her "obstinate and arrogant character." The SC bench also blamed her outburst for the Udaipur incident.
Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, was brutally killed by two assailants, Riyaz Akhtari and Ghaus Mohammad. They slit Lal's throat and posted a video on social media claiming to avenge an insult to Islam. Lal had apparently supported Sharma on social media over her controversial remarks against the Prophet. In another video, they also threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During a debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque row on a TV channel, Sharma stated that because Muslims were insulting the Hindu faith by calling the unearthed Shivling a fountain, certain aspects in their religious scriptures may be mocked as well. She then made a mention of Prophet Muhammad's marriage, too. Her remarks sparked uproar and elicited responses from religious organizations and political parties.