A group of former judges and bureaucrats on Tuesday criticised the Supreme Court's recent observations against suspended Bharatiya Janata Party member Nupur Sharma, alleging that the apex court surpassed the 'Laxman rekha' and calling for 'urgent rectification' steps.
'In the annals of judiciary, the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are indelible scar on the justice system of the largest democracy. Urgent rectification steps are called for as these have potentially serious consequences on democratic values and security of the country,' the statement signed by 15 former judges, 77 ex-all India services officers and 25 veterans said.
The signatories include former chief justice of the Bombay high court Justice Kshitij Vyas, former Gujarat high court judge S M Soni, former Rajasthan high court judges R S Rathore and Prashant Agarwal and former Delhi high court judge S N Dhingra.
Former IAS officers R S Gopalan and S Krishna Kumar, retired ambassador Niranjan Desai, former DGPs S P Vaid and B L Vohra, Lieutenant General V K Chaturvedi (retd) and Air Marshal S P Singh (retd) have also signed the statement which said the Supreme Court observations are not in sync with judicial ethos.
'By no stretch these observations, which are not part of the judicial order, can be sanctified on the plank of judicial propriety and fairness. Such outrageous transgressions are without parallel in the annals of the judiciary,' the statement claimed.
The Supreme Court had on July 1 come down heavily on Sharma for her controversial comments against Prophet Mohammad, saying her 'loose tongue' has 'set the entire country on fire" and that she is 'single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country'.
Refusing to entertain her plea for clubbing of FIRs lodged in various states against her for the remark, the bench held that the comment was made either for cheap publicity, political agenda or some nefarious activities.
Criticising the Supreme Court observations, the statement said, 'We, as concerned citizens, do believe that democracy of any country will remain intact till all the institutions perform their duties as per the Constitution. Recent comments by the two judges of the Supreme Court have surpassed the Laxman Rekha and compelled us to issue an open statement.'
These 'unfortunate and unprecedented' comments have sent shockwaves in the country and outside, it claimed.
Noting that Sharma sought access to the justice system before the highest court, the statement said the court's observations have no connect jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition and 'transgressed in an unprecedented manner all canons of dispensation of justice'.
'She was de facto denied access to the judiciary and in the process, there was an outrage on the Preamble, spirit and essence of the Constitution of India,' the statement alleged.
In the observations, there is virtual exoneration of the 'dastardliest beheading at Udaipur in broad daylight,' it claimed.
It further said, 'Legal fraternity is bound to be surprised and shocked at the observation that an FIR should lead to arrest. The observations on other agencies in the country, without notice to them, are indeed worrisome and alarming.'
The signatories also defended Sharma's plea for clubbing all FIRs against her citing previous orders of the apex court.
'One fails to understand, why Nupur's case is treated at a different pedestal. Such an approach of the Supreme Court deserves no applause and impacts the very sanctity and honour of the highest court of land,"'it said.
Nupur Sharma's comments against the Prophet during a television debate had triggered protests across the country and drew sharp reactions from many Gulf countries. The BJP subsequently suspended her from the party.
The Supreme Court had also pulled up the Delhi police which has registered an FIR against her. The bench said, 'What has happened in the investigation so far? What has the Delhi Police done so far? Don't make us open our mouth? They must have put a red carpet for you.'