Several retired judges, senior lawyers and politicians have been sharply critical of sitting Supreme Court Judge Arun Mishra’s remarks at an event on Saturday, describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an “internationally acclaimed visionary” and a “versatile genius.” Terming his remarks sychophantic, atrocious and a threat to the independence of the apex court, some even called for him to recuse himself from all cases against the government.
“This is astonishing and atrocious, what this judge is doing,” former Supreme Court judge Justice A.P. Shah told The Hindu on Sunday. Another former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju offered a sarcastic comment on Twitter, in Hindi. “Supreme Court ka judge kaisa ho? Arun Mishra jaisa ho,” he tweeted.
Some senior lawyers also expressed unease with the judge’s remarks. “J Misra has left no stone unturned in giving an impression that Indian higher judiciary has truly changed in the last 5 years. What a speech by a sitting judge,” said Rahul Mehra, a standing counsel for the Delhi government. Noting that Justice Mishra was all praise for the Prime Minister, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said, “Do you wonder why the SC is not protecting your rights?” Activist-musician T.M. Krishna echoed his concerns, tweeting: “Such public display of sycophancy and we still expect the Supreme Court to be fair and untainted! We are all fools.”
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also worried about the judge’s impartiality. “Sorry to hear this comment from a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court. After this comment he should recuse himself from all cases against the Govt as the Petitioner stands no chance of Justice from him. Sad. I never expected him to make such a comment as a sitting Judge of SC,” he tweeted.
Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd) noted that Justice Mishra’s comments went against what is expected of the judiciary. “Disappointing & very disturbing. The dignity, gravitas & detachment that people expect from serving judges of the country’s apex court require them to refrain from appearing obsequious to ANYONE in public,” he said.
With U.S. President Donald Trump set to visit India on Monday, historian Ramachandra Guha contrasted the judge’s remarks with those of American judges. “If President Trump was to hear of what Justice Mishra said he’d be madly envious. He has more Twitter and Facebook followers than Prime Minister Modi, he gets to appoint his own Supreme Court Justices, and yet they don’t praise him in public in quite the same way,” he said.
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