New Delhi: The SC on Friday pulled up the CBI, state police forces and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for doing nothing on complaints by High Court chief justices about harassment of trial court judges, especially those dealing with criminal cases involving gangsters and high-profile people.
Citing personal knowledge of a case in which the CBI had done nothing for a year, Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, heading a bench that also comprised Justice Surya Kant, said: “Though the chief justices of HCs send regular complaints, there is little the IB and CBI have done so far.”
Chief Justice Ramana lamented a “new trend”, saying that if an adverse order is passed involving a high-profile person, the “judiciary is maligned”. Berating the CBI, the CJI said in cases involving gangsters and high-profile accused persons, judges are threatened physically and mentally through abusive messages on WhatsApp, and SMS.
“We are very sorry to say the CBI did nothing on the complaints. There is still no change in the attitude of the CBI”, CJI Ramana said, adding he was making this statement with “some sense of responsibility”.
The court’s strong observations came during the hearing of a suo motu matter on safeguarding the courts and judges in the wake of Dhanbad district and sessions judge Uttam Anand being killed by a speeding vehicle during a morning walk on July 28.
The court on Friday issued notices to all states directing them to file an affidavit on the kind of protection and security provided to judges and fixed a further hearing on August 17.
The court also sought a status report within a week from the Jharkhand government on the investigation into the death of the judge. Justice Kant joined Chief Justice Ramana, pointing out that judges are many times mentally harassed and threatened in the cases involving gangsters or high-profile people, but their complaints never yield any result as they get no help. Attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, who was asked to assist the court, agreed with the bench that the judges need to be protected by strengthening their security.
“I have a list of newspaper reports on judges who were attacked. It’s time some strong measures are put in place,” the A-G said. He added: “When such cases are taken, which have gangsters and high-profile accused, judges often get calls saying that they know which car they are travelling in.”
“So you washed off your hands,” CJI Ramana remarked when Jharkhand advocate-general Rajiv Ranjan said the Dhanbad judge’s killing had been handed over to the CBI, though the state police had formed a 22-member SIT and had apprehended the driver of the vehicle.
The advocate general justified the CBI probe on the ground that there may be cross-border implications. The CJI said: “We will ask the CBI to appear on Monday (August 9). We have seen it in other cases too.”
Asked by Justice Surya Kant about the steps taken to provide security to judges of the lower courts, Mr Rajiv Ranjan said their homes and apartment complexes have been provided extra security by the police and a protection force and a boundary wall was being set up.
The CJI intervened to affirm that the unfortunate death of a young judge was the failure of the state as this area has a coal mafia and security should have been provided at the homes of judges.
The advocate-general said additional security had been already provided and boundary walls were in place. Justice Kant told him that hardened criminals could not be contained simply with boundary walls.
Noting that the Centre had not filed its response in the suo motu matter, the CJI said an application had been filed pointing out that anti-social elements were roaming in the courts. He said some security measures needed to be put in place to ensure that judges could work fearlessly. He indicated that the Supreme Court may pass orders at the next hearing on August 17, after noting the Central government’s response.