"Remember Emergency?": Law Minister To Congress Amid Row Over Judiciary

As Kapil Sibal questioned the government's move to bar Justice KM Joseph from the SUpreme Court, Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tore into the Congress, citing Emergency

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'Remember Emergency?': Law Minister To Congress Amid Row Over Judiciary

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned why Emergency was imposed.


New Delhi:  The government's move to bar Justice KM Joseph from a slot in the Supreme Court today triggered angry protests from the opposition and set abuzz the legal circles. It also ended in one of the bitterest run-ins between the Congress and the BJP, which had been sparring for weeks over the crisis in the judiciary.

To the Congress claim of judiciary being in danger, the BJP retorted that the Congress has no moral ground to talk about the matter.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tore into the Congress this afternoon, saying the party's record of "giving unfair and unconstitutional treatment to judiciary is well known". "It is littered with repeated instances of superseding inconvenient judges and compromising independence of judiciary," he said.

As an example, he cited the Emergency, imposed just a day after a 1975 verdict from the Allahabad High Court which pronounced then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and barred her from holding elected posts.

"Why was emergency imposed... Real provocation for imposition of emergency was the Allahabad HC judgment... Reflects their outlook about judiciary. Legendary judge HR Khanna was denied and superseded for the post of Chief Justice of India, that is their record," Mr Prasad said.

The Congress and the BJP have been battling since the unprecedented press conference by four most senior judges of the Supreme Court in January. The battle has accentuated since the court verdict dismissing the demand for an independent investigation into the death of judge BH Loya.

Last week, seven opposition parties led by the Congress sought impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Its rapid denial by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu became the next flashpoint.

Today, appealing the judiciary to remain united, senior Congress leader Kapil said, "If our judiciary is not united to protect its independence then democracy is in danger.... they (the BJP) wants to pack high courts with their own people".


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