Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s I-Day address has come in for some unexpected criticism from the chief justice of India T S Thakur.
At a function, in the presence of Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, CJI Thakur said: ‘‘I think I have reached the peak of my career, so I don’t hesitate in saying what I feel. So, I should speak the truth which touches your hearts… We heard speeches by the popular Prime Minister, the Law Minister and I was expecting something about justice and judges’ appointments. Cases used to get decided within 10 years under British rule but even that is not happening now. The number of pending cases and the people’s expectation has risen so substantially that it is becoming difficult to achieve the objective now. That is why I have time and again requested the Prime Minister to pay attention towards this aspect.
Thakur, who also narrated an Urdu couplet to drive home his point, said: ‘‘I heard the popular Prime Minister for one-and-a-half hours… I expected some mention about justice also, about appointment of judges. I want to tell the Prime Minister only one thing, you remove poverty, create employment, bring schemes etc but also think about justice for the countrymen.”
Incidentally, at the start of another function in the Supreme Court, the knot did not open when the Chief Justice unfurled the national flag. Recounting how finally the flag was unfurled, the Chief Justice said: “We took out the pole, undid the knot in the flag, re-fixed the pole and unfurled it.” The symbolism of his loaded slimily was not lost on the audience.
There has been a dispute between the Supreme Court collegium and the government regarding the memorandum of procedure related to the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary and this has blocked the filling up of vacancies in the courts. Prasad, however, maintains that the appointment of judges would go ahead irrespective of whether the new Memorandum of Procedure is in place or not and has asserted that the absence of MoP would not come in the way of the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala latched onto the comments and tweeted that Justice Thakur’s remarks on the prime minister’s speech were “unprecedented yet starkly true” while Delhi Chief Minister too tweeted his thoughts admiring the CJI for his “courage”.
No need to mention Balochistan: Congress Former external affairs minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of “ruining” India’s case on Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) by raking up the issue of Balochistan in his Independence Day address. “I do not know who advised the Prime Minister to raise the issue of Balochistan… It will dilute our claim on PoK. It will give them additional handle…to interfere in our internal affairs,” said Khurshid.
Pointing out that Modi should take a cue from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on foreign policy, Khurshid said, “Balochistan is a different kettle altogether. We have no business (there),’’ adding that the problem with Modi, who speaks of a “56-inch chest”, was that he “talks too much and does very little.’’
“In modern times, we have to act with brains,” he added. The former external affairs minister said: “PoK is our right. Our entitlement: We will support it. But by bringing in Balochistan, you are ruining our case… We are going to ruin our own case on PoK,” he said, adding that this would give an “additional handle” to Pakistan to target India as “we don’t speak about atrocities in neighbouring countries.”