JAIPUR: Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot made very sharp comments against the Centre on the issues of freedom of judiciary at an event attended by law minister Kiren Rijiju and Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana here on Saturday.
Speaking at the 18th National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) meeting, Gehlot said that it is difficult to work as a judge without fear in a nation where they are targeted for their observation and judgments.
Accusing the Central government of creating an environment of fear in the country, the Congress leader said that judges should work in a free and fair environment and their judgments should be respected.
“Recently, Justices (JB) Pardiwala and Surya Kant (of the Supreme Court) said something in a matter… It is our duty to respect the judiciary but 116 people were made to speak up (against these two judges),” he said in a reference to criticism of the judges for their observation in the Nupur Sharma case.
“Retired judges of high courts, Supreme Court, bureaucrats, and senior officials were opposing the two judges. How was that managed? Who has managed and made an issue in the country? Such an atmosphere has been created,” he added.
On July 1, the vacation bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Surya Kant had said that suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s “loose tongue” had set the “entire country on fire”, observing that she is “single-handedly responsible” for the aftermath.
A few days later, 117 retired judges and retired civil servants, and defence veterans wrote an open letter calling the observation “unfortunate and unprecedented in the annals of the Indian judiciary”.
The chief minister urged Rijiju to convey “my feelings” to Prime Minister Modi on what he called a prevalent “atmosphere of violence and tension in the nation”.
“Rijiju Ji, you should convey my feelings to Narendra Modi Ji that there is an atmosphere of violence and tension in the nation which shouldn’t be there as democracy rests on the power of tolerance. PM Narendra Modi is a democratically elected leader so people listen to him. Shouldn’t he address the nation saying that violence will not be tolerated? The PM doesn’t listen to us. At least you should convey our message to him,” Gehlot said.
Referring to the recent change of government in Maharashtra, he said that democracy won’t work if elected governments are replaced by horse-trading.