NEW DELHI: Justice SS Shinde, Bombay High Court who known to be the sympathizer of Urban Naxals, rescued himself from Bhima Koregaon cases recently, after which the activist group Legal Rights Observatory said they were planning to write to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, to pledge Impeachment Proceedings against Justice SS Shinde of Bombay High Court for patronising Catholic Naxalite Stan Swamy during the hearing in the Bhima Koregaon case under Article 218 of the Constitution of India as per the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
According to the Article 218 of the Constitution of India [PDF], the provisions mentioned in Clauses 4 and 5 of Article 124 of the Constitution of India are applicable in relation to the High Court in a similar manner as they apply in relation to the Supreme Court of India.
“As per Clause 4 and 5 of Article 124, the President has the power to remove a Supreme Court judge provided the removal is based on the grounds of misconducts or incapacity and is supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present.
It reads, “Parliament may by law regulate the procedure for the presentation of an address and for the investigation and proof of the misconducts or incapacity of a Judge.” The details of how the inquiry must be held can be read in the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968”.
Legal Right Observatory (LRO) has cited two instances when according to them, Justice S S Shinde had taken a biased position while adjudicating on matters. The first instance is the matter of cases filed against Arnab Goswami.
LRO states that a Bombay High Court bench presided over by Justice S S Shinde had also denied bail to Arnab Goswami in the Anvay Naik abetment to suicide case, which was already closed 2 years ago. While granting bail to Goswami, the Supreme Court order had made scathing comments on the HC order, saying that “the HC failed to exercise its judicial mind in the case”.
The group has claimed that the public has lost hope in the judicial mechanism due to the manipulation of the roster by Justice S S Shinde to get “politically-charged cases got allotted to his Bench by an unspoken default rule”.
The second instance noted in the letter is the justice’s remarks during the cases against the urban naxals. LRO notes how Justice S S Shinde had praised the overground naxal leaders accused in various cases, and raises questions on his various decisions in the case like granting bails, delaying orders etc.
The letter states that “the oscillating stand taken by Justice S S Shinde in judicial proceedings presided over by him, makes one crystal clear as to what prompted Justice Shinde to hold such biased view and delay deliverance of justice in such cases, making sense of the seemingly disjoint, but ideologically connected stance that Justice S S Shinde held multiple times at the cost of gross injustice to parties involved.”
LRO also mentions that while Justices Rizwan Chagla and Ujjal Bhuyan had quashed the FIRs filed against Arnab for alleged defamatory comments against Sonia Gandhi and some comments on the migrant crisis during the lockdown and held that no coercive steps shall be taken against him in FIRs filed against him, Bombay High Court under Justice S S Shinde while hearing the matter had said that Mumbai police are the best in the world. In a similar manner, the judge had praised Mumbai police by comparing it with the Scotland Yard when Sunaina Holey was arrested for criticising Maharashtra CM. This repeated praise of Mumbai Police shows that Justice S S Shinde is biased towards them, LRO says.
“It is prayed that owing to S S Shinde’s conduct of gross misconduct in the stated cases of public and national importance, invocation of Article 218 of the Indian Constitution for his removal from acting as a High Court Judge is only just and fair and the procedure as given under the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968 may be initiated to quench the incredulity, disbelief and sting that the Indian public suffered on account of the ideological and moral support that Justice S S Shinde afforded to the Accused in Bhima Koregaon case and other similar instances while acting as a presiding officer in such cases,” the letter written by LRO states appealing for action against the Justice.