On behalf of The Leaflet, Prashant Padmanabhan, Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India, spoke to Justice Kurian Joseph (Retd) on December 4, 2018 for an in-depth peak into the recently retired Supreme Court judge’s mind and heart, as well as his inspirations while deliberating on major court cases and delivering landmark judgments. Justice Kurian Joseph, who has been known as an upright and compassionate judge, retired as a Supreme Court judge on November 29, 2018.
In Chapter 15 of their newly released book ‘Loose Pages: Court Cases that Could Have Shaken India’, authors Sourya Majumder and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta explore the quagmire of the cases heard by benches featuring Justice Arun Kumar Mishra of the Supreme Court, especially the Sahara-Birla papers case, in which Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was an alleged recipient of the company’s largesse of Rs 10 crore.
The Karnataka High Court example amply demonstrates that the new process of senior designation gives confidence to the young lawyers without ‘connections’ in the legal profession. It gives them hope that if they are deserving, no one can take away their opportunity to be one day considered for the senior designation. Conferral of this distinction has been duly democratised.
From teeming arrears of cases to disillusioned members of the Bar, the Court requires not just some gentle course correction, but a genuine uprooting of settled practices to guide it back on course. The existing status quo caters heavily to those who favour personal profit or gain from repeated listings and non-effective hearings. It is therefore imperative that some measures are put in place which might upset that comfortable collective.
Through a notice issued by the Registrar, Supreme Court of India, views/suggestions from stakeholders have also been solicited regarding the published names of the advocates aspiring to obtain the senior designation. Stakeholders have been requested to do the same within 15 days hence. Of 105 advocates who have sent in their applications, 15 are are women.
Court has noted that ‘5133 posts out of the total of 22036 posts as on date are vacant. The information collected by the Registry of this Court from the Registries of different High Courts indicates that recruitment process/processes to fill up 4180 posts are presently underway and the said recruitment processes are poised at different stages in different States. The information collected also indicates that total of 1324 posts out of the 5133 vacancies are yet to be subjected to any recruitment process’.
Our legal system subscribes to the principle of open justice. The prayer for live-streaming of courtroom proceedings has its genesis in this principle. Open courts effectively foster public confidence by allowing litigants and members of the public to view courtroom proceedings and ensure that the judges apply the law in a fair and impartial manner.
The lady former judge has contended that her resignation amounts to “deemed termination”. The relief sought by way of this petition by the ADJ is her re-instatement to the post of ADJ along with seniority as applicable to her tenure, back wages and all other consequential relief.
Why is it so important for you to know your judges before they are appointed? The IB has no mandate to check for predatory behaviour of the Supreme Court nominee towards women and such behaviour can pass through the net very easily. This would be the contribution of the #MeToo movement to accountability in the judiciary.
Despite several serious pitfalls in the 45th CJI’s tenure, CJI Misra’s contribution to gender justice cannot be overstated. His sincerity in granting urgent hearings in cases of torture, violence against women and lynch-mob incidences has been par excellence. He was a humane judge, with great tolerance who never resorted to contempt jurisdiction despite all kinds of insinuations, allegations, and barrage of criticism traded against him. He has an eminently unforgettable term on which history will shine a kind light with the healing distance of time.