Criticising Supreme Court Judgment

We may, at this juncture, make it clear that the freedom to criticise the judgments of this Court is not being interfered with.

Lord Atkin’s famous words, in the case of Ambard v. Attorney-General for Trinidad And Tobago, [1936] A.C. 322, come to mind:

“But whether the authority and position of an individual judge, or the due administration of justice, is concerned, no wrong is committed by any member of the public who exercises the ordinary right of criticising, in good faith, in private or public, the public act done in the seat of justice. The path of criticism is a public way: the wrong headed are permitted to err therein: provided that members of the public abstain from imputing improper motives to those taking part in the administration of justice, and are genuinely exercising a right of criticism, and not acting in malice or attempting to impair the administration of justice, they are immune. Justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men.” (at page 335)

64.  Bonafide criticism of a judgment, albeit of the highest court of the land, is certainly permissible, but thwarting, or encouraging persons to thwart, the directions or orders of the highest court cannot be countenanced in our Constitutional scheme of things. After all, in India’s tryst with destiny, we have chosen to be wedded to the rule of law as laid down by the Constitution of India. Let every person remember that the “holy book” is the Constitution of India, and it is with this book in hand that the citizens of India march together as a nation, so that they may move forward in all spheres of human endeavour to achieve the great goals set out by this “Magna Carta” or Great Charter of India.

65.  The Constitution places a non-negotiable obligation on all authorities to enforce the judgments of this Court. The duty to do so arises because it is necessary to preserve the rule of law. If those whose duty it is to comply were to have a discretion on whether or not to abide by a decision of the court, the rule of law would be set at naught. Judicial remedies are provided to stakeholders before a judgment is pronounced and even thereafter. That, indeed, is how the proceedings in review in the present case have been initiated.

Hence arguments have been addressed, exchanged between counsel and considered with the sense of objectivity and fairness on which the judicial process rests. These remedies within a rule of law framework provide recourse to all those who may be and are affected by the course of a judicial decision.

When the process is complete and a decision is pronounced, it is the decision of the Supreme Court and binds everyone. Compliance is not a matter of option. If it were to be so, the authority of the court could be diluted at the option of those who are bound to comply with its verdicts.  [Kantaru Rajeevaru Vs Indian Young Lawyers Association Thr. its General Secretary And Ors. Minority view]