June,27,2015: The Supreme Court may have overlooked the mocking comments of Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi against one of its former judges, but the daughter of the retired judge decided not to let it pass.
Unnati Misra, a lawyer, has written to Rohtagi, expressing her anguish at his comments in open court against her mother, retired judge Justice Gyan Sudha Misra.
Defending the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), Rohatgi had blamed the Collegium system for elevating Justice Misra to the Supreme Court though she allegedly had a habit of coming late to the court. Rohatgi, not just once but over a few hearings, cited her and another judge as “bad appointments” made by the Collegium. Taking strong exception to his comments, Unnati shot a letter to Rohatgi on Thursday, stating that his statements to “run down the reputation of people who have given their sweat and blood to judicial institutions, all in the name of NJAC, are reflective of bias and based on superficiality.”
The letter questioned why “personal comments” were made against a former judge, whose name was first recommended for a High Court judgeship in 1986 when the Collegium did not exist. Justice Misra’s name was approved by three other Chief Justices of High Court and three Chief Justices of India consecutively, as per the letter. However, the elevation had to wait till 1998 after the apex court ruled in favour of the primacy of the Chief Justice of India in appointing judges.
Pointing out that Justice Misra was the first woman Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court and only the fourth woman to reach the Supreme Court as a judge, the letter said she fought her “personal battles” without compromising with the work as her husband fought a fragile health and succumbed to it by the time she demitted her office last year.
About the alleged lack of punctuality, the letter argued that flexible timing had seeped into the system much before Justice Misra was elevated. Several judges leave the court room much earlier, even before lunch break, on miscellaneous days of the week – Mondays and Fridays.
“Justice Misra, who although sat a little after the scheduled time, never compromised by rising just after half-an-hour. She was the last one to leave the court premises, be it the Supreme Court or High Court. There were absolutely no cause-lists that were not exhausted by her and no judgments that were not churned out by her,” it stated.
Unnati said that her mother did not function as a “robot” as she was not appointed to set an example of herself to follow the dictates of the clock but focused more on substance of justice delivery system. She maintained that the letter was not a result of an “emotional outburst” but had been written since her mother’s reputation had been sought to be negatived by such comments.