Siddhartha Varadarajan’s half truths

Witnesses in court have to swear to tell the whole truth, but Siddhartha Varadarajan who runs the portal thewire.in, and professes to be an independent, impartial.and upright journalist, believes in telling half truths.

The latest example is his video on Justice S. Muralidhar, Chief Justice of Odisha High Court, who retired recently

https://thewire.in/law/watch-a-judge-so-outstanding-that-narendra-modi-made-sure-he-never-made-it-to-the-sc

All that Siddhartha has said in this video is correct. Justice Muralidhar has indeed been victimised by the BJP for his independent stance.

In fact it was I who as Chief Justice of Delhi High Court ( 2005-2006 ) got his name recommended for appointment as a Judge of Delhi High Court, despite strong opposition from one of my Collegium members, who said that we have good lawyers in Delhi, so why should we have a Tamilian lawyer as a Judge of Delhi High Court ? ( I had to go to the CJI Sabharwal in this connection, and told him we should not be narrow minded, and that Muralidhar had a very good reputation as a lawyer, and he ultimately supported me ).

Justice Rohinton Nariman, who had the reputation of being very upright, and retired as a Supreme Court Judge on 12th August 2021 ( he was next in seniority after the then CJI when he retired ) told me a few days after his retirement on telephone that as long as he was a serving Judge he did not allow any name to be recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court bench unless the name of Justice Akil Qureshi, a very upright Judge, was also included in the list of recommendees ( he was not recommended as he had passed an order against Amit Shah when a judge of Gujarat High Court ).

https://thewire.in/law/supreme-court-justice-akhil-kureshi-elevation-collegium#:~:text=The%20Supreme%20Court’s%20collegium%20did,more%20judges%20retiring%20this%20year.

Within a few days of Justice Nariman’s retirement, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended 9 names for appointment as judges in the Supreme Court, and all were immediately appointed. This seems to indicate that before Justice Nariman’s retirement, 4 Collegium members sat with the 6th judge in seniority ( who was the incoming member of the Collegium ) behind Justice Nariman’s back, and decided to recommend these 9 names soon after Justice Nariman retired.

https://thewire.in/law/supreme-court-new-judge-appointment-nariman

Justice Nariman told me that these 9 namers had come up for discussion in the Collegium when he was a sitting judge ( possibly proposed by the Govt ), and he strongly opposed 5 of these names as they were undeserving ( for reasons which he told me, but told me not to disclose ), and did not allow these names to be be recommended as long as was a sitting judge.

Justice Nariman also told me that Justice Muralidhar was far superior as a judge to Justice Hima Kohli, who was his junior in the Delhi High Court, and who superseded him and was appointed to the Supreme Court.

All this proves that there is political interference with the judiciary by the BJP, as Siddhartha has rightly alleged..

However, this is only half the truth.

What people like Siddhartha Varadarajan do not say is that the Congress party behaved in the same manner, if not worse, when it was in power.

This blatant politicisation of the judiciary began on a large scale after the verdict of Allahabad High Court in 1975 holding Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of election malpractice, and disqualifying her from contesting elections for 6 years.

This so infuriated Mrs Gandhi that she determined to have a ‘committed’, not independent, judiciary, as advised by her cronies Mohan Kumarmangalam and Siddhartha Shankar Ray.

By long standing convention, the method of appointing a High Court Judge was that the process was initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court. But after Indira Gandhi again became Prime Minister in 1980 ( after the collapse of the Janata party ) this process was reversed.

Thus, in 1984 16 names were sent by the Central Govt to the then Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, with the hint that he would be elevated to the Supreme Court if he recommended these names. He promptly recommended the names, and they were all appointed as High Court Judges ( though for some reason he was not elevated to the Supreme Court ). Almost all these 16 appointees were lawyers known to be closely connected to the ruling Congress party.

Similarly, the Congress Central Govt sent 10 names to the then Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court Justice GP Singh, and asked him to recommend these names for appointment as Judges of the High Court. Justice GP Singh was known to be very upright, and he refused to recommend these names, as he found them undeserving. Consequently, he was never brought to the Supreme Court, though he was fully deserving, and his successor as Chief Justice, Justice Oza, promptly recommended the 10 names, and was rewarded by his elevation to the Supreme Court.

http://justicekatju.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-justice-gp-singh-was-not-elevated.html

Many other examples of political interference by the Congress can be given, and one is given below..

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/how-a-corrupt-judge-continued-in-madras-high-court/articleshow/38760632.cms

The shameless CJI Gogoi was rewarded by the BJP for his loyal service by making him a Rajya Sabha MP, But this only followed the earlier precedent of making CJI Ranganath Mishra an MP for his loyal service to Congress.

Justice RC Srivastava, an able and upright additional judge of Allahabad High Court, was not confirmed as a Judge because he had assisted Mr Shanti Bhushan in the election petition against Mrs Gandhi. Justice KM Dayal was also not confirmed as an Allahabad High Court Judge because he refused to do the bidding of the Congress.

Ripusudan Dayal, who was only an Addl District Judge in Delhi, was suddenly appointed a Judge of the Sikkim High Court ( superseding dozens of judges ), at the instance of Indira Gandhi, who wanted to reward him for deciding a case in her favour. He was later transferred as Judge of Allahabad High Court, then Calcutta High Court, and ultimately made CJ of Sikkim HC.

https://theprint.in/opinion/this-is-how-indira-gandhi-thanked-lawyers-and-judges-look-at-repusudan-dayals-career/1326400/

Numerous other such examples can be given of interference by the Congress in the judiciary.

All this Siddhartha conveniently overlooks, either by mistake or by design, apparently because he is implacably hostile to the BJP.

I too am a critic of the BJP, but I cannot overlook the fact that it was the Congress party which destroyed the independence of the Indian judiciary in the first place.

Siddhartha, on the other hand, ignores this, since he believes in telling half truths.

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