nger and intolerance robs your wisdom and sense of judgement. Rahul Gandhi and his party, the Congress were in the angry mode the day the Party lost elections in Karnataka. They were angrier when the Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala invited B S Yeddyurappa, leader of the single largest party, the BJP with 104 seats to form the government. All hell broke loose. Heaven has fallen. Without repeating the sequence of events since results were out on May 15, I would like to stress on certain points below that deeply hurt our democracy and the institutions.
Our judicial system was evolved in the middle of the 19th Century. After we adopted our Constitution, the Indian Judiciary has survived many pulls and pressures of the government in the past. It has upheld the highest tradition of the judiciary in the world.
The Congress Party along with some other Opposition leaders raised a finger of suspicion at the Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra. They went to the extent of moving the impeachment motion against the chief justice. It is a different matter that it was rejected by the Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. Later, when the Congress moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision of Rajya Sabha Chairman, the petitioner, Kapil Sibal of the Congress withdrew the petition saying he was not satisfied with the constitution of the bench that would hear his petition.
Opposition leaders used some uncharitable words against the highest court of India which was indeed unfortunate. On the day, May 16, 2018, when Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala invited BJP to form the government, Rahul Gandhi who was in Chhattisgarh that day said that the Indian judiciary and our democracy was in danger and that things that are happening in India, happens in Pakistan and some African countries. This should be condemned in the strongest possible term.
On the night of May 16, the same Congress Party dispatched its lawyer MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi to the Chief Justice of India when the Supreme Court was not working.
Chief Justice Dipak Mishra had the option to deny an audience to Singhvi. But he did not do so, keeping the high tradition of Judiciary. He listened to the plea of Singhvi who questioned the Governor’s invitation of BJP leader Yeddyurappa to form the government because the Congress and the JDS had submitted a list of 117 MLAs that was more than the halfway mark and claimed to form the government. But the Congress-JD(S) claim was not entertained by the Governor.
Chief Justice Mishra against whom the Congress had moved impeachment motion allowed the plea and constituted a three-judge bench to hear the matter urgently at the dead of night rather in the wee hours of May 18 past 2 a.m. The Bench sat till 5.30 in the morning. Justice A K Sikri, Justice S A Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan upheld the petition challenging the Governor’s decision to ignore majority claim of the Congress-JD(S) and invite BJP which did not have a majority. The three-judge Constitution Bench passed an interim order directing the Chief Minister Yeddyurappa to prove his majority on the floor of the House next day that was on May 19. The plea of the BJP that at least one week should be given for the floor test and if not a week at least till Monday, May 21. But the Bench rejected the plea and directed Chief Minister Yeddyurappa to prove a majority on May 19. What happened that is known to all and is now a history.
I ask this question to the Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his Party leaders, and other Opposition members who have been accusing the Supreme Court of India of being under the influence of the government. The Supreme Court judgement went against the ruling BJP. What these leaders have to say now? Well, the Congress leaders and petitioner Abhishek Manu Singhvi hailed the judgement and praised the justice system. The main petition on the role of the Karnataka Governor would be taken up after the summer recess when the Supreme Court opens.
The point to be noted is, such reckless and highly irresponsible comments on an institution like the judiciary should be best avoided. Anger and frustration leads to such outbursts that damage the reputation of our institutions. I don’t want to go into details of what the Congress Government did when it superseded three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and appointed Justice AN Ray as the chief justice of India in 1973. The senior judges who were superseded then were J S Shelat, Justice A N Grover and Justice K S Hegde. Leading newspapers described the government decision as ‘the blackest day of Indian democracy’.
Will the Congress Party and its leader respond to the history of the government headed by it at the Centre? What happened when Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad High Court unseated Indira Gandhi as Lok Sabha member in June 1975? National Emergency was imposed.
My appeal to political parties is to leave the institutions of the country to function. The Constitution is a guarantee that the institutions would function in the best tradition of democracy. Don’t sully their image by raising biased and unsubstantiated charges, be it judiciary or any other branch of our democracy.
R K Sinha
(The writer is a Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha)