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Chief Justice of India hits out at Centre

J. VENKATESAN

Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha
The HinduChief Justice of India R.M. Lodha

Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha on Tuesday slammed the Centre for unilaterally segregating senior advocate Gopal Subramanium’s name for elevation as a Supreme Court judge without his knowledge and concurrence.

Speaking at a function to bid farewell to Justice B.S. Chauhan on his superannuation, the CJI said “The segregation of Mr. Gopal Subramanium’s name was done unilaterally by the Executive without my knowledge and concurrence which was not proper.”

Referring to Mr. Subramanium’s letter criticising the judiciary for not responding to media reports of the government not approving the proposal for his elevation, the CJI said: “This is one subject, which is non-negotiable. At no cost the independence of the judiciary will be allowed to be compromised. I will not hold my office if I feel that the independence of the institution of the judiciary has been compromised. I failed to understand that the appointment to a high constitutional position has been dealt with [by the government] in a casual manner.”

He said he spoke to Mr. Subramanium on June 24 while he was in Russia and told him he would take the matter forward on his return to India on June 28. However, he was shocked and disappointed to know that Mr. Subramanium had written a letter to him and made it public.

Mr. Subramanium, in his letter to Justice Lodha, had said “If I continue to be a judge-in-waiting, the validity of these appointments is bound to come under a cloud. The least I owe them is that I withdraw. I am, however, unable to dispel the sense of unease that the judiciary has failed to assert its independence by respecting likes and dislikes of the Executive. While harmony between different organs of the State is a desirable feature, the functionality of each organ is meant to have different, defining characteristics. I am more than willing to step out, but I trust you and your colleagues will undertake suitable introspection. The court owes me, in the very least, a clear statement of confidence although my personal character is not dependent on the outcome of such willingness. It is an act of closure, which a Court of Justice owes to its own members. By failing to do it, the court will sink into quicksand.”

The CJI regretted Mr. Subramanium making public his June 25 letter and said “the judiciary cannot react to media reports.” The CJI, however, made it clear that neither he nor other members of the judiciary would ever compromise its independence.

Explaining the sequence of events, the CJI said that on his return to India on June 28, he saw the file from the government returning the proposal on Mr. Subramanium for reconsideration. “I called Mr. Subramanium to my residence and had a talk with him for 75 minutes. I requested him to withdraw his June 25 letter [withdrawing his consent for judgeship] so that I could take up the matter with other collegium judges for reconsideration. Mr. Subramanium said he would respond the next day. On June 29, I received a six-line letter from him reiterating his stand to withdraw his consent. In view of this, the proposal [for recommending his name by the collegium] cannot be reconsidered. I discussed the issue with the members of the collegium and two future CJIs and felt there was no point in pursuing the matter further,” Justice Lodha said.

 

Read more here- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cji-hits-out-at-centre/article6167426.ece#

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Mercy petitions can’t be kept pending for too long, says CJI #deathpenalty

Zeenews : Saturday, February 08, 2014, 16:44
Mumbai: Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on Saturday defended the last month’s Supreme Court verdict on mercy petitions, saying as per Article 21 of the Constitution, even a death row convict is entitled to protection.He said “this (ruling) does not mean the Court is showing leniency to people who have committed heinous crimes. Commuting death sentence to life can be done in cases of unexplained and undue delay in deciding mercy petitions.”

The CJI was speaking at a seminar on “Improving Criminal Investigation” organised by Legally Speaking Trust in collaboration with the CBI. A convict has right to plead for mercy and it is the Court’s constitutional obligation to decide on it, he said.

“However, (mercy) petitions have been kept pending for more than ten years. Of the 15 convicts on death row (whose pleas were decided last month), two turned insane due to uncertainty (over their petitions). The petitions were not forwarded to the President,” Sathasivam said.

The apex court has also framed guidelines on disposal of mercy petitions and execution of death sentence. As per the norms, convicts given death penalty must be informed about the rejection of their mercy pleas and should be given a chance to meet their family members before they are executed, he said.

In a landmark verdict, a SC Bench, headed by the CJI, on January 21 said death sentence of a condemned prisoner can be commuted to life imprisonment on the ground of delay on the part of the Government in deciding the mercy plea.

During arguments on mercy petitions filed by over a dozen condemned prisoners, the Centre told the SC there can’t be a timeframe for examining such pleas. While delivering the verdict, the Bench gave life term to 15 death row inmates.

At the seminar, the CJI said that after the Delhi gang-rape case of December 2012, the SC had told courts that conviction in cases of sexual assault can be based on solitary testimony of the victim.

He maintained that increase in pendency of criminal cases was not because of the judiciary but due to apathy and inaction of investigative agencies. Action needed to be taken against erring officers.

Probe agencies felt handicapped by want of modern gadgets and also effectiveness of traditional methods of investigation is diminishing, the CJI noted.

Read more here — http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/mercy-petitions-can-t-be-kept-pending-for-too-long-says-cji_910025.html

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Protest letter to CJI- against comments made by Judge blaming women for acts of #VAW #Gender

Justice N. Kirubakaran, judge of the High Court of Madras while inaugurating a Fast Track Mahila Court is reported to have stated that men alone were not responsible for  against . According to a news report he commented that last year’s Delhi gang-rape victim had chosen the wrong time to travel .

Nirbhaya chose wrong time to travel: HC Judge

ChennaiAn alleged remark by a sitting Madras High Court judge blaming rape victims equally for their plight has raised the hackles of women rights activists.

Justice N Kirubakaran, at an inauguration ceremony of a Fast Track Mahila Court in Ramanathapuram in southern Tamil Nadu is reported to have said that women are equally responsible for crimes committed against them.
The judge while interacting with media persons allegedly commented that last year’s Delhi gang-rape victim had chosen the wrong time to travel. Though the mainstream English media did not report this alleged remark, some vernacular publications had published them.
Rattled by such words coming from an officer of the higher judiciary, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has now written to Justice Kirubakaran urging him to shun such regressive views.
In her letter, AIDWA national secretary U Vasuki, who is also a leading lawyer here, said: “When a section of the general public projects such arguments, we tell them that IPC including the latest legislation ‘Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013’ treat sexual crimes as crimes and do not make them conditional to whether or not women invited trouble. But when the criticism comes from a judge on the victims of sexual violence contrary to the constitutional guarantee and protection, we are at a loss for words.”
Vasuki questioned why should we define time for women alone and how could we define right time and wrong time uniformly for all. If the judge’s logic of timing for travel were to be followed, then girls would not be able to attend coaching after class hours and women would not be able to do night shifts at office. Likewise, they would be required to stay off late night movie shows and parties.
“It is their individual freedom, option,” she said while drawing the judge’s attention to late Justice Verma’s observation that there are women and girl children who are increasingly coming into public places for various reasons and trying to remove them or restricting their movements in the name of safety is looking at the issue upside down.

To, Dt. 30.08.2013
The Chief Justice of India,
Supreme Court of India,
New Delhi.
Sir,
I am enclosing herewith a news report appearing in The
Hindu dated 29th August, 2013 ( Enclosed). According to this report,
Justice N. Kirubakaran, judge of the High Court of Madras while
inaugurating a Fast Track Mahila Court is reported to have stated that
men alone were not responsible for crime against women. According
to the news report he stated “why should women invite trouble when
they are well aware that they will get into trouble in some situations”.
The news report goes on to say that the gang rape and
murder of a Delhi girl paved the way for amendment to the Indian
Penal Code after she sacrificed her life, but the girl should be blamed
for choosing a wrong time to travel on the fateful night. It appears the
judge went on to advise women not to invite trouble, ostensibly by
not traveling at night. Ironically these comments were made while
inaugurating the Special Court exclusively to try crime against
women.

Also present at the occasion were the Principal District and
Session Judge Sh. W. Sathasivan, Chief Judicial Magistrate N.Dharman,
President of the Bar Association Mr. A Ravi Chandra and Ramavanni,
Secretary M. Sonasundaran, Addl.District Judge M. Prabasan
appointed judge of the Mahila Court was also present on the occasion.
None of them thought it fit to correct or contradict him.
It appears that Justice N. Kirubakaran is the portfolio judge for
the district in question where the Fast Track court was inaugurated.
I write to lodge my strong protest against the comments made
by Ld. Judge to the effect that women are responsible for crimes
against them. The clear inference is that women would be well
advised to stay at home to avoid being raped.
Women of this country have a fundamental right to travel
when they wish and where they wish including at night without fear
of being raped. It is the duty of the State governed by the rule of law
to provide safety in cities anytime of the day or night. Incidentally the
women in Mumbai was gang raped at 6 P.M., in daylight and if this
prescription is followed women ought not to venture out during the
night or day time.
I think, the Ld. Judge needs to be reminded of the statement
made by the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi to the effect that
India cannot claim to have attained true independence until all
women can walk on the streets be it at mid night without fear of
being molested or raped.
A judge of the High Court is a judge 24/ 7 and his/ her remarks
off the bench and on the bench carry equal weight. He/ She is meant

to be a role model for judges of the subordinate judiciary who he/ she
supervises. Judges must take responsibility for judgments as well as
the remarks they make, the language they use, the view they hold and
their conduct both on the bench and off the bench. Very often male
chauvinist remarks are heard during the course of hearing in court
causing great embarrassment to practicing women lawyers, who are
unable to respond for fear and contempt of court. It may be noted
that these remarks were made at an official function hosted by the
judiciary itself and hence are made during the course of duty.
I am informed that a website called “Justice Kirubakaran Fan
Club” has been created presumably to spread his views. Such is the
impact of statements made by a sitting judge off the bench!
As a citizen of this country as a practicing lawyer and as a
responsible law officer of the Government of India, as a person
committed to human rights and rights of women, it is my duty to
draw your attention to this statement and request that you take
appropriate and necessary action to check this trend.
At a time when the nation is debating the manner and method
of appointment of judges, it is not only necessary to raise the issue of
transparency in the matter of appointment of judges but also
transparency and accountability in the views that they hold as
individual and which they carry forward into their judicial functions. .
I write to you requesting to be informed what mechanism of
accountability exists within the judicial system for dealing with
judges who make insensitive and anti-constitutional remarks in
relation to women

Your immediate intervention in the matter is solicited as
soon as possible to put an end to the spreading of such remarks to
ensure impartial and unbiased justice for women. One way to do this
is to ensure gender sensitization for the judiciary as a whole under
the leadership of the Supreme Court itself in collaboration with the
civil society. Almost all major constitutional courts have within the
court a Gender Justice Committee which constantly monitors the
development in law relating to women and review judgments and
create code of conduct for the use of gender sensitive language and
carry out sensitization programme for the judiciary. It is the primary
duty of all courts to eliminate all forms of discrimination, bias and
prejudice against women. No amount of Fast Track Courts and
Special Courts will deliver justice to women, if those who hold the
high office of a judge of the High Court hold and express such male
chauvinist views.
I am sure you will do your best to put a stop to this
dangerous trend.

 

 

yours  faithfully

(INDIRA JAISING)
Enclosure: Women Equally Responsible for Crimes against Women: Judge, Justice N.
Kirubakaran cautions lawyers not to magnify cases, The Hindu, Dated 29.08.13
CC: 1. Shri Kapil Sibal, Minister of Law and Justice. Government of India, Delhi.
2. Mr. Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal, Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court, Chennai
3. Mr. Justice N. Kirubakaran, Judge High Court of Madras, Chennai.

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