Justice Cyriac Joseph delivering the first 'Justice K K Masthew Law Lecture Series' at Kottayam Bar Association Hall on Friday.
Cyriac Joseph, judge of the Supreme Court of India, on Friday came down heavily on the “unfair criticism” levelled against the judiciary and wondered why cultural leaders and institutions such as the Bar Association were silent on the issue.
Delivering the first K.K. Mathew Memorial Law Lecture series on the ‘Role of Judiciary in Democratic India,' organised as part of the centenary celebrations of the Kottayam Bar Association here, Mr. Joseph said the “abuse and intemperate outbursts” from any quarters were only a display of “ignorance of the constitutional provisions” as also a mark of “lack of culture.”
The people of India as represented by the Constituent Assembly had given shape to the Constitution and had “entrusted the judiciary with
the responsibility of upholding the Constitution, constitutional values and constitutional institutions. Thus the people of India, through the Constituent Assembly, had assigned the role of a watchdog and corrective force for the judiciary in its functioning so that parliamentary democracy could flourish,” he said.
“Judges think, speak and act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and cannot act like bull in a china shop,” Mr. Joseph said and added that whatever powers the judges have are derived from the Constitution. “They are not an unwanted, unauthorised group of people who wield self-acquired powers unaccounted for,” he said
Stating that unfair criticism of the judiciary would undermine democracy and the rule of law in the country, Mr. Joseph said India was ranked high internationally on account of its vibrant democracy which ensured elections every five years and the presence of an independent judiciary. “Independent judiciary is the hallmark of Indian democracy,” he said and added that the decision not to have an elected judiciary was a principled decision of the Constituent Assembly. “This does not make them less authentic,” he said and added that they are appointed on the basis of well laid out rules and guidelines.
“Judgments were not above criticism and any judgment could be subject to constructive criticism at an academic and intellectual level,” he said and stressed that judges who passed judgments that one does not agree with cannot be subjected to unfair criticism, abuse and ridicule. The Constitution provides for revision of judgments and the aggrieved parties should take recourse to such avenues, he said.
“Unlike in a game of football, there is no provision to show the Red Card, though some believe that the provision for Contempt of Court was one such stipulation. “But, I fear even this would become ineffective if people are ready to go to jails,” he quipped.
Describing the late Justice K K Mathew, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, as a “saint among judges,” Mr. Joseph said he considered K.K. Mathew as the greatest jurist produced by Kerala.
K P Presanna Kumar, District and Sessions judge, presided. Senior lawyer and former Minister M P Govindan Nair; senior lawyer V.K. Satyavan Nair; George Boban, president of Kottayam Bar Association; and others spoke.