By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Eyebrows were raised over the joining of two former judges of the High Court to a particular political party which professes a particular brand of ideology. Members of the legal fraternity said there are no restrictions for judges or any government officials to join politics after retirement but it would erode the faith of the common man in the institution of judiciary.
On Sunday during the BJP’s Vijaya Yatra function at Tripunithura in Kerala, two former judges of Kerala High Court Justices (retd.) PN Ravindran and V Chitambaresh have joined the BJP which is making all out efforts to make its presence felt in the assembly elections scheduled in April next month.
Justice Ravindran served as a Judge of the Kerala High Court from 2007 to 2018. Justice Chitambaresh was elevated to the High Court in 2011 and served as a High Court judge until 2019, when he retired.
Reacting on this development, Allahabad High Court advocate Sharfuddin Ahmad said it is merely a tip of the iceberg as this rot in the system was set in during the Congress rule.
Although there is no bar for anyone from judiciary to join politics or any other profession but there should be some cooling period for such persons in order to protect public faith in the justice system, said Adv Ahmad who is general secretary of the All India Lawyers Council, (AILC).
Speaking to Muslim Mirror, he said this betrays deep indoctrination and ideological commitment of public servants who jumped into politics immediately after retirement.
Referring to the recent court rulings in the different cases and former chief justice Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination to the Upper House of parliament, Adv Sharfuddin said it creates doubts in the minds about such judges as the way justice system currently is functioning in the country.
He warned that “All our constitutional systems including the judiciary are facing the unprecedented threat. It is the need of the hour to protect the constitutional values at any cost”.
Echoing similar sentiments, Supreme Court lawyer Bhanu Pratap Singh told Muslim Mirror that every person has right and freedom to join a political party of his/her choice but it is strengthening the public perception about these persons’ integrity when they held the office.
However, Adv. Singh asserted that “judiciary has no more remained a temple of justice and people consider it the protector of a particular political party”.
If such high profile persons join the rank of a political party, it is quite natural to create misgivings among the people’s minds that the said persons might have acted in favour of that particular party”.
“After retirement, a former Supreme Court chief justice entered the Rajya Sabha, a sitting judge of apex court showered praise on the PM and now these retired high court judges joined the BJP, what do these actions point toward that BJP is allegedly controlling the judiciary” ? He asked.
Delhi High Court advocate Feroz Khan Ghazi also of the opinion that judges or any other public servants should spend some cooling period before plunging into politics. It creates bad vibes in the mind of people about the integrity of person who delivered court judgments, he told Muslim Mirror.
In the past, retired army generals, judges and bureaucrats joined politics but that did not attract much public scrutiny and negative opinions about them. In the current communally surcharged political atmosphere, if any high profile public servants join the politics after retirement is being seen as a ‘stooge’ of the government.
Earlier, another former Kerala High Court Judge, Justice (retd.) B Kemal Pasha expressed interest in joining the Kerala politics who served as High Court Judge between 2013 and 2018.
In his farewell speech in 2018, Justice Pasha expressed strong opinions against nepotism in judges’ appointments in the backdrop of recent Collegium recommendations and against post-retirement jobs, going on to comment that some recent events at the time had diminished the glory of the Kerala High Court.
Recently, former Delhi metro chief E Sreedharan, 88, has joined the BJP and raked up the so-called “love Jihad” fiction.
It is to be noted that Justice Chitambaresh had also stoked a controversy months before his retirement by making casteist remarks. In the course of his speech at the Tamil Brahmin’s Global Meet, Chitambaresh urged the Brahmin community to agitate for economic reservation, rather than caste or communal reservation. He said that the Brahmin community is not vocal enough in pressing for its demands.
Even advocating on the Manusmṛti line, the former Kerala judge said d that persons with the qualities of a Brahmin should always be at the helm of affairs.