Senior advocate Dushyant Dave also pulled up lawyers, saying it fell to them to stir the conscience of the judiciary if it was not acting.
New Delhi: There has been a “virtual silence” on the part of the judiciary and it has left citizens “to fend for themselves”, senior advocate and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Dushyant Dave said Saturday.
Dave was speaking at an online seminar titled ‘Role of judiciary in pandemic’, organised by the All India Lawyers’ Union.
He was particularly critical of the top court’s response to the migrant crisis, noting that in one of the hearings, it asked: “How can we stop them from walking?”
If the judges had seen their grandchild walking on the road, and suddenly see a car rushing from the other side, would the judges have not tried to save the child? Every citizen of India is a grandchild of the Supreme Court of India,” he said.
“Judges have a pious Constitutional duty to protect every citizen. They can’t sit in ivory towers, blind folded and (not) see day after day the miseries of the citizens of India,” he added.
Dave also acknowledged the separation of powers among different organs of the government, but said, “All that judges had to do was to have told the executive that ‘we are here, we are watching you. Your actions and inactions are hurting the nation, hurting millions of people … We will not allow this’.”
The pandemic, he said, had given the judiciary a great opportunity to win over the hearts of the people, but the courts had missed out on it.
Judges failing in their duty’
Dave highlighted that the Constitutional framers envisioned the judiciary to supervise “executive actions and inactions”.
He asserted that judges had been “singularly failing in their duty” to hold the government accountable during the past eight weeks.
Referring to the Constituent Assembly debates, he pointed out that Dr B.R. Ambedkar had called Article 32 — which allows citizens to approach the Supreme Court against violation of their fundamental rights — as the most important Constitutional provision.
But now, judges were not willing to follow the Constitution, he said.
Dave went on to say that it was the bar’s duty to remind the judiciary of its role. “If the judiciary’s conscience is dead, it is the duty of the lawyers to stir up that conscience. When the judiciary is not acting, we cannot simply watch and do nothing. Unless the bar unites and puts pressure on the judges to act, we will not be able to galvanise the judiciary into action,” he said.