Letter to Supreme Court by Trade Unions

03 September 2020

We the undersigned leaders of various Trade Unions from Maharashtra have seen with dismay the judgement of the hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter regarding tweets of Shri Prashant Bhushan, Advocate. 

The tweets of Shri Prashant Bhushan are a legitimate expression of his anguish and of his views that the Supreme Court was not functioning as it should have during the lockdown, that Indian democracy has been on a downslide in recent years, that the Supreme Court and the past four Chief Justices of this court have played a substantial role and have allowed such a downslide. 

The judgement has unjustly reached the conclusion that the said opinions are malicious and scandalous, particularly in the light of the following:

In January 2018, the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference in which they made public their views. 

They said, “It is with great anguish and concern that we ... address this letter to you to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this Court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivery system and the independence of the High Courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the Office of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India.” Further, “There have been instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution have been assigned by the Chief Justice of this Court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment.” Further, “...such departures have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent.” While speaking at the said press conference Justice Chelameswar said, “The administration of the Supreme Court is not in order. Many things that are less than desirable have happened in the last few months,” and “Unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country,”

Thus it is clear that the four  senior judges asserted that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court had departed from the normal practise of assignment of matters and had assigned matters to some selected benches. Any person hearing these statement may well understand that such cases were being assigned to serve some hidden agenda. The imputation is also that the Chief Justice while administering the Supreme Court has committed many ‘less than desirable’   acts and that this has threatened democracy in the country. If the Hon’ble Supreme court and the Chief Justice  in its discretion and wisdom,  did not proceed against the four senior justices  for committing contempt of the court for making such statements in a press conference, should not the same standards of justice, discretion and wisdom be applied to Shri Prashant Bhushan.

This judgement also takes into account the fact that Shri Prashant Bhushan is an advocate of good standing and such statement coming from him in a tweet may reach millions. How much more then, would this apply to four of the seniormost judges of the Supreme Court making such remarks about the Chief Justice in an open press conference which was publicised all over the country.

We, as representatives of the workers note that questions regarding workers and their plight are not getting the importance that they deserve from the judiciary. 

It is a fact that workers are being denied, by delay, their basic rights to justice since the lockdown. 

Besides the Supreme Court and the High Courts taking up matters deemed urgent, no other courts are functioning. Labour and Industrial courts are hardly functioning.

It is not out of context to mention here that the workers of Harley Davidson ( which company was mentioned in one tweet). in Haryana are to be laid off. Many workers have lost their jobs in the pandemic. Wages have not been paid. Many workers cases are pending in the Supreme Court . 

The case regarding the payment of wages for the lockdown period is indefinitely adjourned.

Many other matters of grave national importance are pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. 

A tweet by Shri Prashant Bhushan is of little importance or urgency in comparison to the important matters which are pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Finally, may we submit it is less the tweets of Prashant Bhushan that tend to put the Supreme Court into disrepute but the very judgement against him. 

We urge you to retain the majesty of the Court by recalling the order against Shri Prashant Bhushan and confining the case against him to the record rooms where it belongs.

On behalf of the workers from  Maharashtra from both the organised and unorganised sector,

For Trade Union Joint Action Committee (Maharashtra state)

18/8/2020

Vishwas Utagi, Joint Convener, TUJAC

Jaiprakash Chhajed (INTUC), Uday Choudhary (AITUC), Dr. Vivek Monteiro (CITU) Anil Tyagi (AIUTUC) Uday Bhat (AICCTU), N Vasudevan (NTUI), Sanjay Singhvi (TUCI) and All industry-wide Associations

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.