Courts must be open to public scrutiny, criticism: Salve

Courts must be open to public scrutiny, criticism: Salve

Ahmedabad, Jan 17 (PTI) Senior Supreme Court lawyer
Harish Salve has said courts must be open to public scrutiny
and criticism as “institutions of governance”.

Addressing a lecture organised in Ahmedabad through
video-conference on Saturday, Salve said criticism of judges,
judicial overreach and the manner of functioning is not
scandalising courts, and the language in which such criticism
is addressed should be treated with a grin.

“We today have accepted that judges, or rather courts,
and especially constitutional courts, have become institutions
of governance. As an institution of governance it must be open
to public scrutiny and public criticism,” he said.

“We have always accepted that the decisions of courts
can be criticised, including in language which may be
impolite. So the decisions can be criticised. Can we criticise
the decision-making process? Why not?” Salve said.

He was addressing the 16th Justice P D Desai Memorial
Lecture onCriticism of judiciary, contempt jurisdiction
and its use in the age of social media.

“Governance has to be under the sharp blaze of
sunlight…in fact, I think a time may come when the Supreme
Court may seriously consider a very large number of provisions
of the Official Secrets Act, how far do they square with
democracy,” he said.

Most of them have fallen into disuse, said Salve,
who was last year appointed the Queens Counsel for the courts
of England and Wales.

To say an institution has lost its independence,
to say that an institution is acting at the behest of someone,
to allege corruption–that, if it is established to be untrue,
is clearly undermining public faith, Salve added.

“This residue of power to deal with those who are
capable of influencing public opinion…you may be in public
life, influencer.

“Those are cases where courts must retain with itself
this slender jurisdiction of addressing any rupture in
public faith which may be caused,” he said.

Salve further said “if we do need the principles of
contempt, where do we draw the lines?”

The lines must be drawn in a way that the overall
system of governance–the institutions and the criticism of
the institutions–helps everybody march forward in this march
of democracy.

“There is one area where I think judges need to be
protected. And that area is casting aspersions on an
institution in consistent with its character as an independent
institution,” the former solicitor general of India said.

He said courts need not pay heed to tweets by those
who have nothing better to do but to sit with a mobile phone
in their hands and pass judgments, specially on things which
they do not understand.

At the same time, criticism by a politician or those
who can influence public opinion raises a different issue, he

These are the cases “where the courts must retain
with itself this slender jurisdiction of addressing any
rupture in public faith which may be caused,” he said.

He also said the Bar must act against judges and
courts being criticised, and must deal with ill-informed
criticism as a part of the system. PTI KA

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Bollyinsidestaff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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