In one of the most outspoken and blunt criticisms of a Supreme Court judgement by an illustrious former judge of the same court, Madan B. Lokur has said “heaven help us” if the top court intended that Teesta Setalvad should be arrested. He was referring to a sentence in the Supreme Court’s judgment rejecting a petition challenging a lower court’s refusal to file a case against Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, which says: “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”
In a 30-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Justice (Retired) Lokur said that if the concerned judges are in Delhi at the moment “they should hold a special sitting and issue a clarification that they did not intend Teesta’s arrest”. If they are not in Delhi, since this is the court’s vacation period, he added: “They could have instructed the Secretary General of the Supreme Court to issue a statement clarifying it was not our intention that Teesta be arrested.”
When it was pointed out to Justice Lokur that three days have passed yet no such statement or clarification has been issued but there is only silence from the Supreme Court, Justice Lokur agreed that the silence gets more damning for the Supreme Court. He added “the longer silence won’t improve matters”.
Speaking in some detail about the sentence in the judgment that converts the complainants into the accused, Justice Lokur said it was “totally unnecessary and very very unfortunate”. He added “there was no need to say all this”.
Justice Lokur asked, “Why is it necessary to say you need to be prosecuted for a false case?”
He said, “Thousands of false cases are filed, will everyone be prosecuted?” He then specifically added “what about the police who file lots of false cases?”
Justice Lokur agreed that this was a black day for the Court, although he said he would prefer to call it “a very grey day”.
When asked by The Wire if the court had diminished itself and let down its admirers and supporters, Justice Lokur said: “Yes, it has certainly … no one would have expected this from the Supreme Court.”
Justice Lokur said he was “disappointed and disillusioned” with the way the Court had handled this matter.
These are a few highlights of Justice Madan Lokur’s interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire. Please see the full interview to understand Justice Lokur’s arguments as well as his anguish.