BJP leader protests Congress general secretary speaking out of turn and offering un-called for advice

Taking exception to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh faulting the Supreme Court’s oral observation that the CBI must be freed from the government’s clutches, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said that far from belittling the investigating agency, the court’s comments will strengthen it.

In a critical write-up, Mr. Jaitley said the Congress general secretary was known for speaking out of turn and his latest comments on how Supreme Court judges should conduct themselves while hearing a case were unwarranted advice.

A lawyer himself, the BJP leader said that while the correctness or otherwise of the Supreme Court’s judgments and orders could be debated because courts could always go wrong, such an exercise should be motivated by legitimate concerns.

“However, the motivation behind this criticism cannot be the frustration of a loser. This regrettably appears to be the impression that Digvijay Singh has conveyed.”

Mr. Jaitley said there was no merit in Mr. Singh’s argument that judges must speak only through written orders as detailed oral arguments were often addressed in courts. The BJP leader maintained that questions and comments from judges indicated which way the judicial mind was functioning, and lawyers always preferred judges who spoke out to those who never disclosed their mind.

Though the final view of the court was always more structured, when a government or an investigating agency went wrong, oral observations could help nudge it in the right direction, he said.

A nice blend

In a case like the coal blocks allocation investigation, a combination of oral observations and a detailed written order “blends judicial activism with restraint and statesmanship.

The two together contribute to the administration of justice.”

On Mr. Singh’s observation that the Supreme Court had belittled the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot,” the BJP leader said the institution had belittled itself and the government actively contributed to this process.

It was the government that appointed CBI directors, oversaw transfers and postings of officers in the agency, and controlled sanction for prosecution. These powers allowed the government to misuse the agency against political rivals.

The Vineet Narain case verdict in 1997 was the first judicial attempt to strengthen the CBI and though the Supreme Court had laid down certain guidelines, the government had over the last 17 years found out methods to bypass the norms, Mr. Jaitley said.

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