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Supreme Court: Off-the-cuff comments unrelated to case can be avoided by Judges

Kriti Agrawal

On Friday the Supreme Court opined while the hearing in the Suo motu covid-19 case that judges should stop making off-the-cuff comments unrelated to the case.

The three-judge bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice L Nageswara Rao, and Justice Ravindra Bhat made this observation while hearing a Suo motu case regarding the distribution of essential medicines, medications, and vaccines.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, speaking on behalf of the Central government, expressed concern about High Courts issuing demoralizing remarks against the Central and State governments.

SG Mehta said, “Various High Courts entertaining writ petitions are making harsh and uncalled for observations. Sometimes putting Central government in the dock without justification sometimes the State governments. This creates a panic in the people. It has a serious demoralizing impact on those working on the ground firefighting Covid. Supreme Court, as a Karta of judicial family, must address this issue.”

At this point, Justice Chandrachud responded that all that happens in court is done in order to extract answers from the lawyers.

He said, “Judges during discussion say things to elicit things from a lawyer. What is said is not often a final order. Every order spoken from Bench becomes a part of social media. We can only expect that people understand it is not a final conclusion.”

According to Justice Chandrachud, the Bench is actively checking the submissions of the Solicitor General or other government lawyers, but that does not mean the order is against them.

However, the Bench opined that when dealing with appeals against High Court orders, it often does not express its opinion on the judgment.

Justice Chandrachud added, “Off the cuff remarks can give rise to misgivings about any individual. We as judges also exercise restraint. So may be off-the-cuff remarks by a judicial officer can be avoided.”

Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the State of Bihar, said that such comments often demoralize counsel.

Justice Ravindra Bhat observed that, “When first time Suo motu was taken, members of the Bar attacked us saying why did we do so. Now the wheels seem to have turned full circle and now we have to ask High Courts to behave in a particular way. Judges are also stressed. We cannot be fragile to get offended.”