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Court concern over ‘attack’ on judiciary

Says VS ‘statements’ will tend to interfere with the course of justice

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has expressed its concern over frequent ‘attacks’ made by “responsible Ministers” on the judiciary.

Justice S. Siri Jagan, while excusing himself from hearing a palm oil import case, reminded them that “it is not in the interest of anybody and that it would be counter-productive and a healthy democracy calls for mutual respect between the executive and the judiciary.”

VS ‘statement’

The court observed that a “statement was stated to have been made by the Chief Minister of the State to the effect that the court had shut it eyes in ignoring the sorrow of the coconut cultivators in staying the ban (on import of palm oil through the Kochi port) which was secured by the State government by putting pressure on the Central government.” (The stay was granted by Justice Siri Jagan while considering a writ petition filed by a Kozhikode-based firm challenging the ban order).

‘Incorrect’

The court described as incorrect the reported statement of the Chief Minister that the “judiciary had asked the respondents (Central government and others) whether they would bear the expenses of importing palm oil as the ship had already left Malaysia. It was reported that the Chief Minister had asked “whether it was the quality of the earth of this land or that of Malaysia,” which can only be regarded as an imputation on the judge,” the court observed.

“These statements, if actually made, would tend to interfere with the course of justice as the matter is sub judice,” the court observed.

On contempt charge

The court said, “If it was actually made, the same is against the basic principles of democracy and it is a sad reflection on the democratic value of the State, it may even amount to contempt of court. I wonder whether such statements are not counter-productive to the interest of the cultivators whose cause the Chief Minister seeks to espouse. This court has the courage of conviction to ignore the statements with the contempt they deserve and to decide the case dispassionately unaffected by such outburst.

‘Callous statement’

“But when the Chief Minister of the State makes such callous and irresponsible statement (if he has made them), the party who may be affected by the judgment of this court and discerning public may justifiably have the feeling that the judgment is the result of such interference, which in turn would erode the confidence of the public in the judicial system which this court would want to avoid at any cost,” the court said.

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