August,16,2015: The Independence Day function held on the Supreme Court premises on Saturday became a venue where the already acrimonious relationship between country’s judiciary and the executive took a turn for the worse.
Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar were cold to several grievances raised by the hosts, Supreme Court Bar Association and Chief Justice HL Dattu, who talked of need for more cooperation from the government to combat rising pendency and protection of independence of judiciary.
Both Gowda and Kumar were of the view that Independence Day was not an occasion to raise such grievances and they can be looked into later at a one-to-one meeting.
But the law minister used the same dais to slam the judiciary for slow pace of trials.
In an apparent reference to outpour of support for 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon, earlier row over hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and pleas for release of Rajiv Gandhi assassins, Gowda went on to state that delay in disposal of cases and deciding the punishment was leading to public sympathy and support for persons who have committed hardcore crimes.
“Divisive tendencies, groups or people disturbing the peace of our society on account of political social and economic ideologies rather than following legal means, people who disturb the peace of the society through technological means have become a challenge for free society.
“Ends of justice have to be ensured not only to prevent such disturbances but also to ensure that punishments for each offence awarded act as deterrent for others.
“This requires fair but fast trial so that before public memory dies down the case is disposed of and ends of justice is meted out,” Gowda said.
“Delayed disposal and imposing punishment after a protracted period not only loses the relevance of deterrence but also leads to public sympathy and public support for the convict.
“Hope our lawyer friends do appreciate the point I am making and request them to cooperate with judiciary so that the disposals of cases are speeded up and justice is meted out as soon as possible in order to do our bid to ensure that the gift of free society we got out of freedom struggle,” he said.
Speaking before Gowda, SCBA vice-president V Shekhar and president Dushyant Dave requested the minister to address problems faced by the judiciary like ever-increasing case backlogs, need for better infrastructure, more courts, increasing the number of judges and need to secure the independence of the judiciary.
But the minister said it was inappropriate to debate on such issues on an auspicious occasion like the Independence Day and said he will very soon invite the SCBA members for a meeting to thrash out the issues.
CJI Dattu too had referred to the issue of “ugly ghost of arrears” in his speech.