Judicial conduct

February 26, 2020 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST

The basic code of conduct for judges need not necessarily be extracted from judicial pronouncements (Editorial page, “The unassailable keywords for the judiciary”, February 25).

Public speaking is an art; non-controversial public speaking is a fine art. Judges must be aloof and reticent both on and off the dais since their job demands that. They must keep only their ears and eyes open. When there is a compelling need to speak, especially at gatherings, they should have a prepared mental blueprint of their speech from which they should not veer away from.

That being the case, what Justice Arun Mishra did was unpardonable as it has created an impression that the judiciary has become subservient to the executive. The absence of the the venerable Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer is felt more now.

V. Lakshmanan,

Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu

Judicial independence is central to our democracy. This cannot be over-emphasised at the time when cases involving constitutional interpretation are because the highest court of the land. Ideally, an independent judiciary must keep in check the excesses of the legislative and executive branches and safeguard our democracy. Justice Mishra’s lavish praise of the Prime Minister, and at a public forum, is unfortunate. Consequently, one cannot rule out the perception now about his judgments. In these turbulent times, an independent judiciary is the last ray of hope for the law-abiding citizen of India.

A. Venkatasubramanian,

Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu

A dangerous trend has emerged of late among political commentators — of a tendency to draw out a political scorecard of judges. This worrisome development involves judging the judges by scrutinising judgments and poring over observations of judges in public platforms to fit them into pro-establishment and anti-establishment labels. Justice Mishra’s indiscreet public praise of the Prime Minister evoked howls of protest and deep dismay, as if the entire judiciary has surrendered its independence to the government. Should a judge’s slip of the tongue that resulted in a public expression of a private thought provoke agonising hand wringing about the judiciary’s future? Are not Supreme Court judges instinctually and professionally trained to keep the political executive at an arm’s-length and assert their independence notwithstanding their occasional breaches of judicial etiquette? Why should Justice Deepak Gupta’s statement that dissenters are not anti-national evoke exhilaration as if the learned judge is implicitly castigating the government? It appears as a general defence of the right to dissent and has nothing to do with specific cases of sedition.

Let us trust our judges to act fearlessly and independently without mounting pressure on them to speak and act in particular ways to conform to preferred political visions. Nothing poses a greater danger to judicial independence and unity than the insidious exercise of judicial labelling and stereotyping.

V.N. Mukundarajan,


At a time when men of clay abound as Governors and those who occupy exalted positions in the judiciary are setting their sails to the winds from the political establishment we cannot but admire Professor K.T. Shah for his foresight and foreboding words in the Constituent Assembly that have been cited in the article. Can we citizens do anything now beyond grinning and bearing it?

Manohar Alembath,

Kannur, Kerala


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