Saturday, February 21, 2015

An insult to judiciary

An application for anticipatory bail was filed in the Supreme Court by activist Teesta Setalvad.  Ms.Setalvad is accused of misappropriating contributions received apparently for post-Godhra riot victims. Gujarat state police contends that the accused is not forthcoming with details of accounts and therefore seeks custodial questioning. Gujarat state government and Setalvad are sworn enemies. So, it is difficult to comment on merits of their respective contentions.

But what is astonishing and in fact disgusting is the way in which proceedings have started in the Supreme Court. The petitioner questioned the objectivity of the two judges constituting the Division Bench because Narendra Modi had attended the marriages of children of these two judges! This is at best a ridiculous reason and is certainly a condemnable contention. By the same logic, one may say that Teesta Setalvad's grand-father M.C.Setalvad was a legal luminary connected one way or the other to all justices of the court and therefore no judge can hear a petition filed by her.

The Bench was reconstituted in an inexplicable act of compromise of judicial dignity. Prashant Bhushan waxed proud: "It has been brought to my notice that Mr. Narendra Modi was an invitee of, and recently attended, the weddings of the children of Justices Mukhopadhaya and Ramana, who are hearing the case of Teesta Setalvad. The allegation of Teesta in this case is that she is being hounded by the Gujarat Police since she had played a leading role in exposing the role of Modi in the Gujarat carnage of 2002, and is seeking accountability for it. In these circumstances, the question has arisen whether it would be appropriate for these judges to hear this case”.

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