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Crossed ‘Laxman Rekha’, say ex-HC judges, civil servants on SC bench’s remarks on Nupur Sharma

In an open letter, the signatories, calling the oral observations 'damning', said pronouncing BJP ex-spokesperson 'guilty without trial' can never be a facet of democratic society.

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New Delhi: A group of former high court judges, civil servants and retired officers from the armed forces has criticised observations made by two Supreme Court judges against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, stating that the remarks have crossed the ‘Laxman Rekha’ and have no “parallel in the annals of judiciary”.

In an open letter issued Monday, they outlined their reservations against the oral observations made by the judges who were hearing a petition by Nupur Sharma to club together nine FIRs filed against her since her controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad on a news show in May. The statement has been signed by 15 former High Court judges, 77 former civil servants and 25 retired officers of the armed forces.

On 1 July, a vacation bench of justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala said that Sharma’s “disturbing statements” were “single-handedly” responsible for igniting “emotions in the country”. The oral remarks, which met with severe backlash, were made as the judges dismissed her petition to club the cases together and didn’t find a mention in the written judgment.

“This lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country,” commented Justice Surya Kant, who was extremely critical during the 20-minute hearing.

The open letter statement said: “In the annals of judiciary, the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are an indelible scar on the justice system of the largest democracy. Urgent  rectification steps are called for as these have potentially serious  consequences on democratic values and security of the country.”

Underlining that the observations had no connection jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition, the group said that Nupur Sharma sought access to the justice system before the highest court but she was “de facto denied access to judiciary and in the process, there was an outrage on the Preamble”.

The open letter mentioned that the reflection she is “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country” has no rationale.

Claiming that emotions have flared up extensively following the observations, the signatories said: “By such observation perceptionally there is virtual exoneration of the dastardliest beheading at Udaipur in broad  daylight.”

The statement also noted that the remarks made by the judges were uncalled for and served to undermine the “essence and spirit of the Indian Constitution”.

“Forcing a petitioner by such damning observations, pronouncing her guilty without trial, and denial of access to justice on issue raised in the petition, can never be a facet of a democratic society,” the letter stated.

Some of the signatories included former Bombay High Court Chief Justice Kshitij Vyas, former J&K DGP SP Vaid, former CBI chief Nageswara Rao and former Principal Secretary, Karnataka S L Gangadharappa among others.

Read the full letter here:

Also read: What India—Hindus and Muslims—missed in Supreme Court’s ‘lecture’ on Nupur Sharma


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