What KK Venugopal said in 1987 speech
On Thursday, the Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, during a hearing in the Supreme Court on the Prashant Bhushan contempt matter, said that Bhushan should not be punished.
He then referred to critical speeches about the judiciary made by some former judges, and mentioned a 1987 speech he had delivered on the judiciary — before the three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra told him that it would not reconsidering its judgement (the bench has already held Bhushan guilty) and that the AG should not make arguments on the merits of the case.
What then was the 1987 speech that Venugopal was referring to?
While the exact text of the speech is not available, in a separate speech in 2002, while calling for a National Judicial Commission, Venugopal mentioned the issue of corruption in the judiciary. Then, too, he went back to his 1987 speech, which, he said, was delivered during a discussion organised by the Bar at the Indian Law Institute.
Quoting from that 1987 speech, he said: “However, like distant thunder, we start hearing rumours of corruption, nepotism and favouritism entering the portals of the courtroom as well. The subject is taboo and like the Chinese monkeys, one does not see, hear or speak of this evil; but if there is a likelihood of this nightmare ever becoming a reality, then it is necessary to hunt down the causes and neutralise the same before it becomes a reality.”
In the 2002 speech, Venugopal went on to then quote retired SC chief justices who, too, had flagged the issue of corruption in the judiciary.
Thirty-three years after Venugopal made a speech which had more than a hint of criticism of certain tendencies in the judiciary, as AG, he pointed to it to suggest to the court that it should review its approach to the current case.
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