‘Indelible Scar’: Open Letter Hits Out At SC’s Comments On Nupur Sharma’s Plea

by Ujjawal Mishra - Jul 5, 2022 05:54 PM +05:30 IST
‘Indelible Scar’: Open Letter Hits Out At SC’s Comments On Nupur Sharma’s PleaSupreme Court of India (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

An open letter condemned the “unfortunate and unprecedented comments” made by a Supreme Court bench while hearing a petition by ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

The letter: The open letter is signed by 15 retired judges, 77 former bureaucrats, and 25 army veterans.

  • It calls out the two-judge SC bench for crossing the "laxman rekha." The judges were hearing Sharma's petition to transfer the FIRs registered against her in various states to Delhi.

  • The letter says that the judges' observations had no connection jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition and it transgressed "all cannons of the dispensation of justice."

  • The SC bench's comment that Sharma is "single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country" has no rationale, the letter says.

  • By making such an observation, the court virtually exonerated "the dastardliest beheading in broad daylight" and flared up emotions by diluting the gravity of the gruesome act that was committed in Udaipur, says the letter.

  • The letter also raises concerns about the bench’s no-holds-barred commentary upon other agencies in the country without giving any prior notice to them.

  • The signatories criticised the two judges for making innuendos about Sharma’s “clout” and said, “The unfortunate comments have no parallel and are an indelible scar on the justice system of the largest democracy… forcing a petitioner by such damning observations, pronouncing her guilty without trial, and denial of access to justice on the issue raised in the petition can never be a facet of a democratic society…”

  • The letter also points out that only the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to transfer or club the FIRs/cases registered in other states. Yet, the two judges refused to take cognisance of Sharma’s petition, forced her to withdraw it, and asked her to approach appropriate forums (High Court).

  • “Such an approach”, the letter says, “deserves no applause and impacts the very sanctity and honour of the Highest Court of land.”

Nupur Sharma's plea: Ever since her comments about Prophet Muhammad created a furore in the country as well as in the OIC nations, Nupur Sharma has been facing death and rape threats.

  • Cases have been filed against her in various states including Delhi, Maharashtra, and West Bengal. A lookout notice has been issued against her in West Bengal. Sharma's plea was for the clubbing of FIRs against her in multiple locations and for the cases to be heard in Delhi.

  • During the hearing, Justice Surya Kant remarked, "She has threat or she has become security threat? The way she has ignited emotions across the country. This lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country."

  • The bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J B Pardiwala said, "When you lodge a complaint against someone, that person is arrested but nobody dares to touch you. That shows your clout."

  • The bench refused to give Sharma the requested relief and forced her to withdraw the petition.

Outrage over SC comment: As the remarks made by the bench became public, online protests erupted across the country, with people asking for responsibility to be fixed for such 'egregious remarks'.

  • The debate also shifted to the larger issue of judicial accountability and the way judges are appointed in the Indian judiciary.

  • Following the outrage, Justice Pardiwala termed such social media comments as "unnecessary interference" and called for monitoring these platforms to prevent such criticism of the judiciary.

Bottom line: For an institution that has shielded itself from public scrutiny and provides little to no transparency in matters like appointment and corruption, the public letter by retired judges and others is surely going to rattle several status quoists within the judicial system.

Ujjawal Mishra is a Staff Writer at Swarajya. He tweets @Ujjawal1Mishra.
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