Home Advocate More hope in the Supreme Court: lead lawyer Kapil Sibal

More hope in the Supreme Court: lead lawyer Kapil Sibal


Expressing his anguish over some recent Supreme Court rulings, lead attorney Kapil Sibal said he had no hope left in the institution.

The lead attorney was speaking at a people’s tribunal held on August 6, 2022 in New Delhi on the ‘judicial rollback of civil liberties’ by the Campaign for Accountability and Justice Reforms (CJAR), the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the National Alliance of Popular Movements (NAPM). The Tribunal focused on the 2022 Supreme Court judgments on the Gujarat riots (2002) and the Adivasis massacre in Chhattisgarh (2009).

Sibal did not mince his words in criticizing the Supreme Court’s judgment rejecting Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging the SIT’s good word to state officials during the Gujarat riots, as well as the verdict upholding the law’s provisions. on the Prevention of Money Laundering which confer broad powers on the Law Enforcement Branch. . He had appeared for the applicants in both cases.

He started his speech by saying that after serving for 50 years in the Supreme Court of India, he no longer had any hope in the institution. He said that even if a historic judgment is made, it almost never changes the reality on the ground. In this context, he gave an example of the judgment striking down section 377 as unconstitutional. He said that despite the judgment rendered, the reality on the ground remained the same. While addressing the gathering, Sr. Adv. Sibal said that “independence is only possible when we defend our own rights and demand that independence”.

Sibal, who had represented Zakia Jafri, the widow of Gujarat Congressman Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gujarat riots, said that while pleading in court, he only registered government documents and official documents and no private documents. He said that during the riots many houses were burned down. Naturally, the intelligence agency would call the fire brigade to put out such a fire. However, according to Sr. Adv. Sibal, documentation or correspondence from the intelligence agency showed that no fire brigade responded to the call. He said it had been argued that the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had failed to properly investigate why firefighters had failed to respond to calls and that this meant the SIT had failed to respond. does its job properly. Sibal said that despite these observations, the Supreme Court did nothing.

He said the SIT exonerated several people based solely on statements made by those facing the charges themselves. Although these aspects were reported to the Supreme Court, nothing was done. Even a law student would know that a defendant cannot be released on the basis of their statement alone, he said.

He said politically sensitive cases are assigned to certain judges and the verdict can be predicted by everyone in advance.

While talking about the independence of the judiciary, he said that–

“A court where judges are appointed by a process of compromise; a court where there is no system to determine which case will be presided over by which bench, where the Chief Justice of India decides which case will be handled by what bench and when, this tribunal can never be independent.”

While addressing the recent Supreme Court PMLA judgment (Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India), Sr. Adv. Sibal said that the Directorate of Execution had become extremely dangerous and had “crossed the boundaries of individual freedom”. While criticizing the Supreme Court’s approach in that judgment, he said the judge presiding over the case said the PMLA was not criminal law, despite the definition of “proceeds of crime” in the PMLA including the word crime, which was penal in nature. He questioned the logic of the Supreme Court’s conclusion that emergency workers are not police officers.

“How can you keep faith in the Supreme Court when it upholds such laws?”, He asked.

He also talked about IPC Section 120B and its shortcomings. He said whenever someone wants to entrap an innocent person, a case is brought against them under Section 120B (for conspiracy). He said no bail is granted to these defendants until they prove their innocence. He said that if such a law had been upheld by the Supreme Court, nothing could be expected from such a court. He further stated that–

“You cannot trust a system where laws of such a nature are respected. (Siddique) Kappan, what is against him? He has been in prison since 2020 and since being charged in under 120B, he won’t be released on bail… In this country you first get arrested for frivolous FIRs, then the investigation begins. It’s a colonial practice. The law should be such that the investigation should take place before the arrest. No reason for such a law until the criminal law is amended…I do not want to speak thus of a Court where I have practiced for 50 years but the The time has come. If we don’t do it, who will. The reality is that any sensitive matter that we know is problematic is put before a handful of judges.”

People’s Court

The members of the Tribunal were: Justice AP Shah (former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court and former President, Law Commission of India), Justice Anjana Prakash (former Justice, Patna High Court), Justice Marlapalle (Former Judge, Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chairman of the 2014 High Level Committee to Review the Status of STs) and Dr Syeda Hameed (Former Member of the Planning Commission).

Petitioners in the cases and others, including senior Supreme Court lawyers, testified before a panel of retired justices and prominent figures on how recent rulings are rolling back constitutional protections for the people of this country and civil liberties case law.

Former Justice AP Shah, while giving his opening comments on the Chhattisgarh dating case, said that instead of appreciating the courage of the tribals and ordering an independent investigation, the Supreme Court penalized the tribals on an investigation by the police, who was the accused in the case. He said he was shocked by the Supreme Court’s approach to the case. He said that the occurrence of the massacre was not disputed and even if the victim’s allegations that it was the police and security forces who assaulted them should not be believed as such, criminal jurisprudence still requires a fair and independent investigation. . He further pointed out that the Supreme Court completely ignored the struggle through which the unfortunate adivasi victims managed to reach this court and instead of forming an SIT for investigation, it then imposed an exemplary cost of 5 lakhs on petitioner no. 1. He questioned what kind of criminal justice it was? Expressing his disappointment, Judge Shah said he had been a judge himself and had seen many such proceedings, but the tendency to deny an independent investigation and impose a fine on petitioners was not not a healthy sign.

“Instead of appreciating the courage of the tribals and ordering an independent investigation, the SC penalized them on investigation by the police who were charged”

Anjana Prakash, J. (Retd.) speaking on behalf of the entire panel observed that the Supreme Court has in fact added to the injustice to victims by its two judgments. She said that whatever the situation, it is our duty to go to the Supreme Court for justice and the Court fulfills its duty in most cases. She said that we do not live in a feudal setup and it is taxpayers’ money that runs every institution and therefore all institutions are bound to deliver justice to the people. She concluded by observing that it is not the judges who are sacrosanct, but the very act of administering justice that is sacrosanct and that therefore it was the obligation of the people to continue to demand justice.