Justice UU Lalit, who takes over from NV Ramana as Chief Justice of India on August 27, discussed the thorny issue of criticism of court, saying while constructive criticism of judgments can come from anyone, critics cannot focus on judges in a personal capacity.
Asked about judges coming under personal attack, Justice Lalit said, "I firmly believe that a judge speaks through his judgement and order".
"Therefore whatever he does in the public realm, that is certainly available to be seen to be criticised, assimilated, analysed by any person, be it a legal scholar or be it any person, even a commoner," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
But in such cases, it should be remembered that one is dealing with a judgment, "not the judge behind that".
"Criticise the judgment, criticise the view to the extent possible. You may have a counter view. You may say that perhaps, 'I think the judge has failed to understand or take into account the earlier binding view, and therefore say that the judgment cannot be tested on the angle of the bounded law'. Certainly yes," he said.
Earlier, several Chief Justices had made the same point. Still, the Supreme Court faced harsh criticism on social media over comments on BJP's Nupur Sharma, whose remarks on Prophet Mohammed set off stormy protests and a diplomatic row and led to her sacking as the party's spokesperson.
Shortly after, Justice Ramana had said "kangaroo courts" on TV debates and social media were taking the country backwards.
"There are concerted campaigns in social media against judges. Judges may not react immediately. Please don't mistake it to be a weakness or helplessness," Justice Ramana had said at an event in Ranchi.
"New media tools have enormous amplifying ability but appear to be incapable of distinguishing between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad and the real and the fake," he had added.