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‘Vested Interest Group Trying to Pressure Judiciary’: Indian Lawyers Petition CJI

Lawyers call upon the SC to vigorously defend the integrity of judiciary against perceived external pressures

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on March 28, 2024, 13:33:23

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nbspA coalition legal professionals including prominent figures like senior advocate

 A coalition of legal professionals, including prominent figures like senior advocate Harish Salve and Bar Council of India chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra, has penned a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), asserting that a "vested interest group" is exerting undue influence on the judiciary and tarnishing its reputation "through unsubstantiated claims and outdated political agendas."

The letter, dated March 26 and addressed to CJI DY Chandrachud, highlights concerns over what they perceive as orchestrated attempts to manipulate the judiciary, particularly evident in cases involving political figures accused of corruption. These tactics, the letter alleges, pose a threat to the integrity of the courts and undermine the democratic principles they stand for.

While the letter refrains from explicitly naming specific individuals, it implicates a faction of lawyers who, it claims, oscillate between defending politicians during the day and attempting to sway judicial decisions through media influence at night.

The group of lawyers, numbering approximately 600 and including Adish Aggarwala, Chetan Mittal, Pinky Anand, Hitesh Jain, Ujjwala Pawar, Uday Holla and Swarupama Chaturvedi, among others, expressed concerns about the propagation of misleading narratives about the judiciary's past, aimed at influencing court proceedings and gaining political mileage.

Although no specific cases are cited in the letter, its release coincides with ongoing high-profile corruption trials involving opposition leaders. Opposition parties, many of whose members are legal practitioners themselves, have accused the government of orchestrating politically motivated prosecutions, a charge denied by the ruling party.

In their missive to CJI Chandrachud, the signatories lament the erosion of public trust in the judiciary due to what they perceive as baseless allegations of past judicial susceptibility to external influence. They vehemently deny allegations of "bench fixing" and criticise attempts to draw parallels between Indian courts and those in countries lacking in rule of law.

The letter also condemns what it describes as a "my way or the highway" attitude among critics, who selectively praise or disparage judicial decisions based on their personal biases. Such behaviour, the lawyers argue, undermines public confidence in the legal system.

Expressing apprehensions about the timing of these criticisms amidst impending elections, the lawyers recall similar episodes in 2018-2019, characterised by what they term as "hit and run" activities aimed at delegitimising the judiciary.

In conclusion, the lawyers call upon the Supreme Court to vigorously defend the independence and integrity of the judiciary against perceived external pressures.

They emphasise the importance of CJI Chandrachud's leadership in navigating these challenges and stress that silence or inaction risks empowering those seeking to undermine the judiciary's authority.

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