Justice Madan Lokur, who retired as a judge of the Supreme Court just over two years ago, has in public remarks expressed his “disappointment” with the manner the top court has conducted itself in the discharge of its constitutional functions, and has recently even called upon the apex court to adopt an “interventionist” approach to check the “rampant misuse (even abuse) of the country’s criminal justice system.
A hands-off approach by the Supreme Court in the matter of a spate of FIRs for the same presumed violation encourages those who take advantage of the law to trouble fellow citizens, the retired judge observed.
Making a direct reference in this regard to the growing tendency on the part of some to file multiple FIRs, Justice Lokur drew attention to the case of prominent journalists, including several well-regarded editors, and an MP, Shashi Tharoor, being subjected to harassment through the filing of near-identical FIRs in several states, accusing them of sedition and causing social harmony. In the case of Mr Tharoor and the journalists, their initial tweets on the cause of the death of a farmer in the course of the recent agitation had led to the spate of FIRs being lodged — clearly by the people of the same motivation or persuasion.
Justice Lokur contrasted the above case with those of two television anchors — Arnab Goswami and Amish Devgan. The case of the first was heard within 15 hours of the top court being approached. His prayer to club the FIRs was instantly heeded. The other anchor was also given some relief. But the senior journalists charged with sedition, and Mr Tharoor, have not had the same luck. The former judge has, therefore, urged the Supreme Court to be “interventionist” and “lay down the law” in the case of multiple FIRs with the same content.
Criticisms of Supreme Court judgments by retired members of the top judiciary are not unknown. Nor is the failure of the top court to take action, as in constitutional matters concerning Kashmir, CAA, and habeas corpus — issues on which Justice Lokur has also expressed himself. But urgings to be “interventionist” from a retired member of the top court bench do appear novel. In this lies their freshness and historical value.