Supreme Court judge, Justice Deepak Gupta , has said that the laws and legal system are geared in favour of the rich and powerful.
It was the poorest of the poor who suffered the most during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the underprivileged who needed the attention of the Supreme Court now more than ever. A humane and compassionate judiciary was the need of the hour, he said. Judges could no longer afford to live in ivory towers.
In his farewell speech on Wednesday, Justice Gupta said the system usually went into a tizzy if a rich person was put behind bars. Applications for his bail and expediting his trial were filed repeatedly in the superior courts. His case was heard at the cost of delaying the case of the poor litigant. The poor too had a right to life and dignity. The judiciary needed to hear and help them.
“This Court has a duty to ensure that every citizen of this country lives a life of dignity and is not deprived of the right to life… In times of a crisis such as the one we are living in, the courts must protect the poor and the underprivileged, because it is they who are hit the hardest in trying times. When the court does its duty and acts in favour of the citizens, sometimes there will be friction, but a little friction is a healthy sign that courts are functioning properly,” Justice Gupta said.
Justice Gupta reminded his fellow judges that there was “no alternative to a totally independent judiciary” in a country which followed the rule of law. The integrity of the judicial institution could not be put at stake under any circumstances. “The Constitution is our Bible, Quran, Gita, Guru Granth Sahib...” he said.
‘A great gentleman’
The farewell function was organised online by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) under its president and senior advocate Dushyant Dave in the form of a webinar.
In a separate video message, Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde called Justice Gupta a “great gentleman” whose name would go down in the annals of history as the first Supreme Court judge who was given a “virtual farewell.”
SCBA president Dushyant Dave talked about the qualities of integrity, independence and impartiality exhibited by Justice Gupta during his tenure in office.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal referred to a speech delivered by Justice Gupta in February, when he had upheld dissent as part of freedom of speech and said that criticism of the government could not be called a criticism of the country.