Sibal's 'no hope left' from SC remark; AIBA calls it "contemptuous"; Rijiju condemns it as "unfortunate"
New Delhi, Aug 08: Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate Kapil Sibal's "no hope left" from the Supreme Court remark stoked a controversy on Monday, with the All India Bar Association terming it "contemptuous" and Law Minister Kiran Rijiju saying it was "very sad for the entire country" that opposition leaders start attacking constitutional bodies after verdicts do not favour them.
Also on Monday, two lawyers filed separate pleas with Attorney General KK Venugopal, seeking his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Sibal while BJP IT chief Amit Malviya asked the top court if it will invoke contempt against the former Congress leader for questioning the powers of the Chief Justice of India and other decisions of the SC.
Sibal, a former law minister, had criticised the apex court over its recent judgments, including on the PMLA, at an event on Saturday and said he would complete 50 years as an advocate in the top court and after five decades, he had "no hope left" in the institution.
"It is a misconception that you get solutions in the Supreme Court," he said and alleged that "sensitive" cases are now invariably assigned to a few select judges in the Supreme Court, and the legal fraternity usually knows what the judgment would be.
Lashing out at him, Rijiju said statements made by Sibal and some Congress leaders "betray a mindset" that courts or any constitutional authority must favour them or work according to their interest. Whenever courts give a decree or a judgment against their mindset, they start attacking the constitutional authorities, he told reporters.
This is "very very sad for the entire country" that prominent leaders and parties are criticizing constitutional institutions like the Supreme Court, high courts, Election Commission and other important agencies, the BJP leader said.
These agencies and institutions are absolutely autonomous and work according to the rule of law and are guided by the statutes, he said. "Our government is absolutely clear in its mind that the country must be governed by the constitutional proprieties as well as the rule of law. Any kind of attack on the constitutional authorities and the courts is very unfortunate and condemnable," Rijiju said.
Taking to Twitter, Malviya said,"Kapil Sibal, who it is widely believed presides over a caucus that manages cases in the top court, questions SC’s latest judgment on PMLA, a law he signed off on as a minister in the UPA.
He also questions powers of the CJI and other decisions of the SC. "Will SC invoke contempt?" Reacting strongly, AIBA chairman and senior advocate Adish C Aggarwala said the courts decide cases by applying lathe w to the facts presented by cases before them and they owe allegiance to the Constitution.
"Criminal cases which were instituted by the then governments as a political witch-hunt, where detailed investigations have been carried out but failed to disclose any evidence, had to be given a burial and if that has happened, no fault can be found with the judicial system. Courts are not to deliver judgments hanging people just to assuage the feelings of a certain community," he said.
A robust system is insulated from sentiments and is influenced only by the law, Aggarwala said in a press release. He said it has become a trend that when a case is decided against someone, that person starts denouncing judges on social media alleging that the judge is biased or the judicial system has failed.
"This is wholly contemptuous and coming from someone of the standing of Kapil Sibal who was also President of Supreme Court Bar Association, it is unfortunate too," Aggarwala said. He said Sibal is an integral part of the justice dispensation system.
"However, if he actually feels a loss of hope in the institution, then he is free not to appear before the courts," he added. Meanwhile, two lawyers -- Vineet Jindal and Shashank Shekhar Jha -- have requested the top law officer to grant consent for initiating contempt proceedings against Sibal.
"The speech of the contemnor is not only against the Supreme Court and its judges but is a process to undermine the dignity and independent nature of the Supreme Court by scandalizing the authority of both the Supreme Court and its judges," Jha said in his letter.
Similarly, Jindal has claimed that statements by Sibal have "scandalised the judgments" passed by the Supreme Court judges. "If this kind of precedent was allowed, political leaders would start making a reckless allegation against the judges of the highest court of our country and this trend would soon lead to the failure of an independent judiciary system," he said in his letter.