A group of 772 Lawyers recently wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde raising concerns about an emerging trend to "browbeat and intimidate the judiciary".
"India has witnessed a series of attacks by institutional disruptors against judges who are unwilling to agree with them and toe the line drawn by them. It is unfortunate that when political ends of lawyers are not served by a decision of the court, they vilify the court by making scandalizing remarks. The Supreme Court of India, as well as the judges, are subject to both scurrilous language, malicious attacks, and scandalizing remarks," the lawyers said in the letter which comes in the backdrop of the Prashant Bhushan case.
On August 14, the Supreme Court held senior advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court and fixed the date of hearing for his sentencing on August 20.
In the aforesaid mentioned letter to the Chief Justice, the 772 lawyers emphasized that legitimate criticism of both judgments and the functioning of the institution has always existed, however, when the criticism is calculated and actuated by malice, it is the authority of the court which is undermined.
"We urge you to uphold the edifice of the judicial system and protect the third pillar of our democracy from those who peddle falsehood to destroy the institution. We sincerely hope that the Supreme Court of India ensures that such persons are dealt with in an exemplary manner, even if such actions are taken thirteen years later or else such trends will only accelerate and strike a blow to the guardian of the rule of law," read the statement.
The group of lawyers said if the judiciary is to perform its duties and functions effectively, it is essential to protect the dignity and authority of the courts.
"The foundation of the judiciary is the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver justice. The actions of these institutional disruptors through name-calling and usage of certain phrases such as 'Supreme Court has destroyed democracy', 'the Supreme Court is killing the Constitution' have the tendency to destroy the faith of the public in the judiciary," added the statement.
Citizens slams critics of Bhushan judgment
A group of citizens comprising retired judges and bureaucrats has slammed those criticizing the Supreme Court's conviction of lawyer Prashant Bhushan in contempt of court case, accusing them of using every opportunity to strike at the roots of democratic institutions like Parliament, Election Commission and the apex court.
"We are deeply concerned by statements by a group of persons who wrongly claim themselves to solely represent the civil society and use every opportunity to strike at the roots of Indian democratic institutions such as Parliament, Election Commission of India, and now, the Supreme Court of India," the group said in a statement.
The group had also submitted a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind on July 30, which stated that "stray groups with hidden political agendas" and claiming to be the sole custodians of Constitution and democracy, cannot be allowed to denigrate democratic institutions, especially the apex court.
More than 100 signatories to the statement included former Bombay High Court chief justice K R Vyas, former Sikkim High Court Chief justice Permod Kohli, former Petroleum Secretary Saurabh Chandra, and former Punjab DGP P C Dogra.
They noted that Bhushan is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and 'contempt of court' cannot be justified by any "pressure group".
"The legal profession is a solemn and serious occupation, with constitutional, professional, and ethical obligations. Any violation of the principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable," the group said.