More than a week before the four judges of the apex court took to the press to say that the court’s administration needed an overhaul, parliamentarians across political parties came together in the lower house to criticise the judiciary for interfering in the political domain. The three-hour-long debate, held during the recently-concluded Winter Session, has widely been seen as a manifestation of a cold war which has been festering between the two arms of the system for a while.Some of the MPs in the Lok Sabha, who spoke against the judiciary while discussing the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017, were advocates themselves. BJP’s Gopal Shetty, the TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee, TDP MP Ravindra Babu, BJD MP Tathagata Satpathy, CPI (M) MP Anirudhan Sampath were some of the parliamentarians who took turns to speak about some of the flailing aspects of the judiciary in what was a move as unprecedented as that, which unfolded on Friday.Shetty, who spoke on higher fees, recalled an incident when former PM Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to meet Justice MC Mahajan, who was next in line for the apex court’s top post, “Three Judges of the Supreme Court, including Justice Mukherjea, whom Nehru wanted as the next Chief Justice, offered to resign.” He said that Nehru’s daughter, former PM Indira Gandhi, however breached the convention of seniority when she appointed Justice AN Ray appointed as Chief Justice of India, superseding three Judges senior to him.Banerjee said that parliamentarians should join him in approaching the Supreme Court to ensure that legislation was left to the parliament. “Day by day a conflict is emerging and unless it is stopped by the judiciary, in 10-15 years, there will be a direct conflict,” said Banerjee.Satpathy said that like other wings of democracy, the judiciary, too, be brought under the ambit the Right to Information (RTI) to bring in more transparency. Speaking on similar lines, Ravindra Babu said that an All India Judicial Services on par with the IAS should be constituted, while several MPs suggested live telecast of proceeding in the higher courts and the Supreme Court. Sampath said that, as part of a standing committee, he found the conditions in several courtrooms to be unhygienic and that in some cases, some courtrooms were toilets.
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