New Delhi: The All India Bar Association (AIBA) “unequivocally rejected” the demand for ‘expunging’ of oral observations made by a bench of the Supreme Court while hearing a petition filed by a suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

In a statement, AIBA said, “The judges on the bench, anguished by the public order disturbance and security threat triggered by Sharma’s remarks, made some important and timely remarks which are conscientious and in the national interest.”

It added, “AIBA, therefore, has requested the Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana to not take any cognizance of any letter or petition filed before his Lordship, seeking withdrawal of those adverse remarks made by the Hon’ble Division Bench of the Supreme Court, while declining Sharma’s plea to club all FIRs against her in that regard following her controversial remarks against the Prophet.”

Dr Adish C Aggarwala, Senior Advocate and Chairman of All India Bar Association, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, said the bench had sent a categorical message to the society at large by pulling up Sharma, who is a lawyer of 20 years standing at the Bar, that public personalities and spokespersons of political parties should be more careful not to hurt the religious feelings of anyone. 

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“In that view of the matter, the Hon’ble Bench has done its constitutional duty with aplomb. It is the sovereign duty of the judiciary to insulate the secular fabric of this nation from being damaged by irresponsible acts of public figures”, Aggarwala added.

The legal fraternity further said that it welcomed the observations made by the Justices, as they are directed at “hate-mongers trying to divide the nation on religious grounds”. 

The statement by AIBA added, “India can become a powerful and developed nation only if stern action is taken against such hate-mongers irrespective of their religion.”

“While hearing cases, especially the types of ones which Sharma had brought about before it, constitutional courts cannot maintain Sphinx-like silence nor stay cold and emotionless. It is normal for judges to exhort counsel from parading all information necessary for a fair adjudication of the issue brought before them, and raise queries, doubts and even rap on the knuckles of arguing counsel for the purpose of fair and impartial resolution of the dispute”, AIBA added.

It added, “Taking umbrage at such oral queries and remarks, and then filing petitions and sending letters to ‘expunge’ those remarks is not known in law. How can a oral remark become a cause of action for a fresh petition, and any order be passed?”

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“The AIBA, therefore, requested the Chief Justice of India to reject any call or letter or petition to ‘expunge’ oral remarks made by the Hon’ble Division Bench of the apex court. The demands are untenable, unethical, unconstitutional and unprofessional”, it added.

AIBA also said, “Instead, in matters pertaining to state as well as disturbance to public tranquillity, public order and national integration, judicial directions should be issued to investigation agencies to complete the probe within one month and trial should also be completed within one month. Speedy investigation and trial will be helpful in combating such crimes.”

AIBA added that the Supreme Court is the constitutional court of the land and It has all the powers and authority to speak what appeals to its judicial conscience and mind. “Any attempts from any quarter of the society, much less the legal fraternity, to undermine the Constitutional morality of the Supreme Court will damage the very fundamental fabric of our judicial system”, it added.

The AIBA requested the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India to reject all attempts to make an issue out of constitutionally free-willed remarks made in the national interest by a division bench of the Court and warn the authors of such attempts against any more such bids in future.

The AIBA has also requested the CJI to hear the Association before passing any order on any letter petition seeking expunging of the oral remarks.

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