New Delhi: Several opposition MPs have petitioned President Droupadi Murmu for immediate action over social media trolling of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud while he was deliberating on a case related to the governor’s role in Maharashtra during the last government formation.
In a letter to the President, the Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha termed such online trolling a “brazen case of interference with the course of justice” and has called for immediate action against the culprits.
Opposition MPs write to President Droupadi Murmu seeking action against those supporting and sponsoring online trolling of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud who is hearing the Maharashtra politics case. #CJIDYChandrachud #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/loItTTqyYX
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) March 17, 2023
Tankha was supported by several opposition MPs, including Congress’ Digvijaya Singh, Pramod Tiwari, Shaktisinh Gohil, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Amee Yajnik, Ranjeet Ranjan, Imran Pratapgarhi, Shiv Sena(UBT)’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, AAP’s Raghav Chadha, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan.
A copy of the complaint has also been sent to the Minister of Law, Minister of IT, and the Police Commissioner of Delhi. In a similar complaint to the Attorney General of India, Tankha has demanded strict action against those accused of trolling.
Urging the president for immediate action against the troll army defaming the administration of justice and the Chief Justice of India, the complaint said the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court headed by CJI D Y Chandrachud is seized of and hearing an important Constitutional issue in the matter of government formation and the governor’s role in Maharashtra.
“While the matter is subjudice, the troll army, presumably sympathetic to the interest of the ruling party in Maharashtra, has launched an offensive against the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. The words and contents are filthy and deplorable, which has garnered views in lakhs on social media platforms.
“In a matter which is subjudice and in seisin before the Supreme Court, such despicable conduct is only possible if such people enjoy the support of the ruling dispensation. Your excellency and the constitutional and statutory authorities in India are dutybound to protect the dignity and decorum of the Indian judiciary,” the MPs’ letter said.
It cited Justice J S Verma’s remark in the Vineet Narain case: “Be you ever so high, the law is always above you”.
“This also is a brazen case of interference with the course of justice. We expect immediate action not only against the persons indulging in trolling but also against the people behind it, i.e., supporting and sponsoring it. As law-abiding Parliamentarians, we expect immediate action against the culprits,” the MPs said in their petition to the President.
In their complaint to the Attorney General, Tankha said he and other MPs are appalled by the filthy conduct of the troll army presumably sympathetic to the interest of the ruling party in Maharashtra against the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud.
He also sought time from him, saying a delegation of Parliamentarians would like to call on him on Monday after court hours to beseech him to “use your position as the Attorney General of India for initiating strong and exemplary action”.
Tankha urged the attorney general to seek a report from the Delhi police commissioner about names and details of people involved in the trolls and the ones supporting and encouraging them.
He also sought to issue directions to the ministries of IT and law to demonstrably ensure visible action against the despicable trollers and their IDs as “what is at stake is the majesty of law, the dignity of the court and the image of our constitutional institutions”.
“On the basis of the information which is sought from the police commissioner and the two ministries, initiate strong and exemplary legal action against the despicable troll leaders and their sympathisers. As the first law officer of the country, it is your beholden duty as the protector of law and the constitution on behalf of the Union of India to take the following prompt and strict actions.”
“We expect action on your part at the earliest in the interest of law and administration of justice,” the complaint said.
The issue of trolling judges has been raised several times in the top court with former CJIs also expressing concern over the issue.
Earlier this month, CJI Chandrachud highlighted the problem of rolling in an age “when people are short on their patience and tolerance”.
“Every little thing that we do… In everything that you do, you face the threat of being trolled by someone who doesn’t share your point of view,” the CJI said at an event recently. The Supreme Court has cited the issue of trolling several times and had favoured regulation on it in 2017.
Speaking at an event in November on Constitution Day in 2021, former Chief Justice of India N V Ramana expressed concern over “increased attacks on the judiciary in the media, particularly social media” and said they appear to be “sponsored….Motivated and targeted”.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has also said that CJI Ramana had also written to him requesting a law to curb social media criticism of judges. However, Rijiju said it was not feasible to restrict criticism of judges through legislation.