The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on his last working day of the outgoing CJI along with a bench led by him stated displeasure at the criticism levied by the senior lawyers against the suo moto case taken by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on COVID-19 related issues.
The Hon’ble bench in the instant matter stated that there was no intention to take over the cases from the Hon’ble High Courts and consequently the Hon’ble bench held that the criticism was baseless.
Further in the instant case while referring to the statements against the suo moto case the Hon’ble CJI opined that “the Hon’ble bench is disappointed after reading the statement so made by supposedly senior advocates.”
Subsequently, the Hon’ble CJI remarked after the senior advocate sought permission to be discharged as an amicus curiae from the case, saying “that the advocate doesn’t want the matter to be heard under a shadow that he was appointed based on his school friendship with the Hon’ble CJI”.
At this stage, the Solicitor General made a statement that a “maligning competition” was going on in the media and electronic media, which was the last thing the country wanted during a time of disaster.
Additionally while demanding the senior advocate not to rescue as amicus succumbing to public pressure the Hon’ble Solicitor General said that “the Hon’ble bench are not in a position in the country to have a maligning competition in media and electronic media. Someday somebody from the judiciary has to take cognizance of this trend of electronic media. Later, the Hon’ble SG said that we saw on digital media people abusing. In continuation, the Hon’ble SG said that this needs to be looked into”.
At this juncture, the Hon’ble bench turned to Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave and asked him that “even before the order was released, it was being criticized for something which was not there in the order. Is this the way Senior Advocates speak? Without seeing the order? Is this the way you respond? Imputing motives? Without reading the order?” to which the senior advocate replied that “It was not imputing motives. We all thought your lordships was going to transfer cases from Hon’ble HCs to Hon’ble SC It was a genuine perception. Your lordships have done it before”.
In response to the statement made by senior advocate Mr. Dave, the Hon’ble bench said that the Hon’ble bench did not say a word about the Hon’ble High Courts. Additionally, the Hon’ble bench stated that the Hon’ble bench never hindered the Hon’ble High Courts from proceeding. Subsequently, the Hon’ble bench also stated that the Hon’ble bench requested the Centre to approach Hon’ble High Courts”.
Likewise, the Hon’ble Justices made a statement that the “Senior lawyers should protect the institution” and “the Hon’ble court believes that institutions will be strengthened by objective criticism”.
Solicitor General then said, “Chief Justice is retiring today. I genuinely feel he deserves a loving farewell. Senior Advocates must not give public statements based on perceptions”.
In continuation to the ongoing deliberations the senior advocate, Mr. Dave stated that “the Hon’ble Justices have been defending the government only based on perceptions”.
Subsequently, the Senior Advocate and the present President of the Supreme Court Bar Association added that once “Solicitor General has said that no migrants were walking in the road and the Hon’ble Court has accepted”.
In the instant matter, the Hon’ble SG in the ongoing discussion said asked the advocates that “What is going on here?”. To which the advocates responded that hospitals in New Delhi are facing oxygen shortage, and the court must look into inter-state issues.”
The Hon’ble CJI after listening to the senior advocate stated that the Hon’ble bench is closing the matter for today and is adjourning it to next Tuesday, as Solicitor General was seeking time to file the reply.
Likewise, the Hon’ble bench also allowed the request of senior advocate to be relieved from the case “In Re: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic”.
It was yesterday that the CJI-led bench decided to take suo moto cognizance of issues relating to COVID19. The CJI orally observed that the trend of different High Courts dealing with such
The Hon’ble bench in the due course issued notice to the Union Government, State Governments, UTs, and parties who have approached the Hon’ble High Courts asking them to show cause why the Hon’ble Supreme Court should not pass a uniform order on issues related to :
- Supply of oxygen;
- Supply of essential drugs;
- Method and manner of vaccination; and
- Declaration of lockdown.
Lastly, the Hon’ble Court also requested the Central Government to place before it a national plan for dealing with essential services and supplies during the Pandemic.
The move of the Supreme Court to take over the cases from the Hon’ble High Courts came under extensive criticism from the legal community. Several senior lawyers opined that the Supreme Court’s intervention, when the High Courts are seized of the issues, was “uncalled for and unjustified”.
Finally, the Supreme Court Bar Association has filed an application stating that the Hon’ble High Courts should not be stopped in dealing the cases as they are best suited to deal with local problems.