IB, CBI not helping judiciary at all: SC on threat to judges

Updated on Aug 07, 2021 01:39 AM IST
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, rued that judges are not on priority for the investigating agencies and that their complaints are not heeded despite specialised body like CBI getting roped in
The Supreme Court was hearing a suo motu PIL over the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand. (Archive)
The Supreme Court was hearing a suo motu PIL over the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand. (Archive)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Concerned over judges getting maligned and threatened for not passing favourable orders in “high-profile cases”, the Supreme Court on Friday lamented that Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) “are not helping the judiciary at all.”

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, rued that judges are not on priority for the investigating agencies and that their complaints are not heeded despite specialised body like the CBI getting roped in.

“In one or two places, the court ordered a CBI inquiry. I am very sorry to say that the CBI has done nothing in more than one year. At one place, I know, the CBI has done nothing. I think we have expected some changes in CBI’s attitude. But there is no change in the attitude of the CBI. I am sorry to observe this but this is the situation,” the CJI told attorney general KK Venugopal, who was called by the bench for assistance.

The bench, which also comprised justice Surya Kant, was hearing a public interest litigation registered on its own over the death of additional district and sessions judge Uttam Anand, who was fatally knocked down by a vehicle on July 28 in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad.

As it inquired from Jharkhand’s advocate general Rajiv Ranjan about the safety being provided to the judicial officers in the state, the bench vented out its anguish over lack of help from police, CBI and IB. While Ranjan said that the probe into Anand’s death has bene handed over to the CBI due to possibilities of an inter-state angle, the bench pointed out that the CBI has not done anything in cases where judges reached out to them with complaints.

“There are several cases in the country which involve gangsters and where high-profile people are accused. Judges are threatened mentally also by sending messages on Whatsapp, SMS or on Youtube. This is a new trend in this country. When high-profile people don’t get favourable orders, they start maligning the judges on all forum,” it observed.

The court asked the A-G to take “personal interest” in the issue so that the judiciary could get some help from the investigating agencies.

Venugopal, on his part, replied that judges are indeed more vulnerable than bureaucrats because of their nature of duties and that it is time some strong measures are put in place to protect judges.

Referring to a 2019 case relating to security of judges and court premises, the bench said that the Centre and states are yet to file their responses narrating how they will ensure safety inside and outside court premises. It requested the A-G to have a proper affidavit filed by the Union government in this regard.

About the Jharkhand’s case, the bench remarked that the state was “negligent”. “Look at this unfortunate case of death of a young judge. You cannot ignore the state’s negligence. This is the state’s failure. This area has coal mafias and security should have been provided to the society and residences of judges. But nothing was done,” it commented.

At this point, Ranjan submitted that societies and homes of judicial officers have been given security of police and protection force and that all the required steps were being taken.

The court then adjourned the matter for Monday, seeking the presence of the CBI in the matter to apprise it of the status of the probe into Anand’s death case.

On July 30, the bench had emphasised that it is the State’s obligation to protect judges to ensure they can discharge their duties fearlessly as it took suo motu (on its own motion) cognisance of Anand’s death. Registering the suo motu case as ‘In Re: Safeguarding Courts and Protecting Judges (Death of Additional Sessions Judge, Dhanbad)’, the court had directed chief secretary and director general of police, state of Jharkhand to jointly submit a status report of inquiry within a week.

Concerned over judges getting maligned and threatened for not passing favourable orders in “high-profile cases”, the Supreme Court on Friday lamented that Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) “are not helping the judiciary at all.”

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana rued that judges are not a priority for the investigating agencies and that their complaints are not heeded despite roping in a specialised body such as CBI.

“In one or two places, the court ordered a CBI inquiry. I am very sorry to say that CBI has done nothing in more than one year. At one place, I know, CBI has done nothing. I think we expected some changes in CBI’s attitude. But there is no change in the attitude of CBI. I am sorry to observe this but this is the situation,” the CJI told attorney general KK Venugopal, who was called by the bench for assistance.

The bench, which also comprised justice Surya Kant, was hearing public interest litigation registered on its own over the death of additional district and sessions judge Uttam Anand, who was fatally knocked down by a vehicle on July 28 in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad.

As it inquired from Jharkhand’s advocate general Rajiv Ranjan about the safety being provided to the judicial officers in the state, the bench vented out in anguish over the lack of help from police, CBI and IB. While Ranjan said that the probe into Anand’s death has been handed over to the CBI due to possibilities of an inter-state angle, the bench pointed out that the CBI has not done anything in cases where judges reached out to them with complaints.

“There are several cases in the country which involve gangsters and where high-profile people are accused. Judges are threatened mentally also by sending messages on Whatsapp, SMS or on Youtube. This is a new trend in this country. When high-profile people don’t get favourable orders, they start maligning the judges on all forum,” it observed.

The court asked Venugopal, the Centre’s top law officer, to take “personal interest” in the issue so that the judiciary can get some help from investigating agencies.

Venugopal, on his part, replied that judges are indeed more vulnerable than bureaucrats because of the nature of their duties and that it is time some strong measures are put in place to protect judges.

Referring to a 2019 case relating to the security of judges and court premises, the bench said that the Centre and states are yet to file their responses narrating how they will ensure safety inside and outside court premises. It requested the A-G to have a proper affidavit filed by the Union government in this regard.

About the Jharkhand’s case, the bench remarked that the state was “negligent”.

“Look at this unfortunate case of death of a young judge. You cannot ignore the state’s negligence. This is the state’s failure. This area has coal mafias and security should have been provided to the society and residences of judges. But nothing was done,” it commented.

At this point, Rajiv Ranjan said that societies and homes of judicial officers have been given security cover by the police and all required steps were being taken.

The court then adjourned the matter for Monday, seeking the presence of CBI in the matter to apprise it of the status of the probe into the death of the Dhanbad sessions judge.

The bench emphasised the State’s obligation to protect judges to ensure they can discharge their duties fearlessly on July 30 as it registered the suo motu (on its own motion) case, ‘In Re: Safeguarding Courts and Protecting Judges (Death of Additional Sessions Judge, Dhanbad)’.

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