AILAJ Condemns ‘Lawyers’ Group’ Statement on Judicial Independence

AILAJ in a statement issued on March 31 condemned the letter issued by a “Lawyers’ Group”, and its immediate endorsement by Prime Minister Modi on the heels of the electoral bonds judgment, as a thinly veiled attack on the Chief Justice of India and the very idea of judicial independence.

A Lawyers’ Group including several lawyers who openly identify with the BJP and the Sangh Parivar, had issued a letter to the Chief Justice of India on 26.03.2024, cautioning about what they call a “vested interest group” who they allege is trying to “pressure the judiciary, influence judicial process and defame our courts on the basis of frivolous logic and state political agendas”. Within hours, Prime Minister Modi issued a tweet attacking the Congress for trying to “browbeat and bully others” and aiming for a "committed judiciary". Unsurprisingly also came the outpouring of support from the online right-wing ecosystem.

AILAJ statement noted that, bereft of any particulars or details, this “letter” is an exercise in obfuscation and misdirection. It is particularly telling for its timing. It comes on the heels of certain judicial actions that have clearly ruffled the executive’s feathers – the electoral bond judgment declaring the scheme unconstitutional and directing SBI to disclose the names of donors (which the Modi government desperately tried to avoid), the stay on the Fact Checking Unit under the IT Rules 2021, the setting aside of the Office Memorandum of the Environment Ministry diluting environmental norms in regard to linear projects and the judgment holding that it is not a crime to criticise the decision of Modi government to abrogate Article 370 and withdraw special status to Jammu & Kashmir. Moreover, it comes at a time when the Supreme Court is slated to hear crucial cases concerning the use of EVMs, constitutionality of CAA and the arrest of Opposition leaders and political activists.

It is unsurprising that the “Lawyers’ Group” maintain stoic silence at this concerted assault on the judiciary by the Modi government. unsurprising since they are part of a ploy to unsettle the highest judiciary from holding the Modi government accountable to the Constitution in any manner whatsoever. 

This letter, bereft of any semblance of constitutional morality, is an open declaration by this “Lawyers Group” of their allegiance to the Modi government, and their disregard for its attack on the Constitution and the judiciary. 

AILAJ condemns this thinly veiled threat to the judiciary and the blatant effort to divide the legal fraternity, and calls on all members of the legal fraternity to unite against any attacks on judicial independence and the Constitution.