WHAT SHOULD THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA DO?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Quit if you can’t protect the minorities.

This is what Justice Markandey Katju of the Supreme Court of India reportedly remarked on January 5, while a division bench headed by the Chief Justice was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Cuttack Archbishop Chinnath seeking CBI enquiry into communal violence in Kandhamal of Orissa affecting Christians of the District.

The Opposition, specifically the Congress, is trying to take advantage of this remark. The President of Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Jaydev Jena and Leader of Opposition J.B.Pattanaik have asked Chief Minister Navin Patnaik to quit in view of this remark. Jena has declared in a Press conference that his party would agitate in every corner of the State demanding resignation of the CM if he doesn’t quit in view of the judicial remark.

It is therefore clear that the passing remark of the Judge is going to be politically used.

When the case is in the hearing stage and the allegations raised in the PIL are yet to be tested on the matrix of reality, such a passing remark, if at all it was made, should not have come from the lips of the Judge hearing the case, because the matter being politically sensitive, the remark was supposed to be politically misused, specifically when the bed of politics has already become worm with foreplay of election.

What should the Supreme Court do? Should it allow its remark to be politically used?

Is it not time for the Supreme Court to dissuade its Judges from passing off the cuff remarks that may have ingredients to be used politically by certain politicians against their political rivals, before the final verdict is delivered?

In the instant case, is it not proper for the Supreme Court to issue a clarification on the alleged remark and to put a ban on its political use by Opposition Congress in Orissa?

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