A day after senior Supreme Court Judge A.K. Sikri withdrew his consent to be a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal(CSAT), retired SC Judge Markandey Katju has backed his decision, after it was found that the government had recommended A K Sikri's name as India's nominee for president/member in the London-based CSAT.
Taking to social media, Justice Katju has written an elaborated post vouching for Justice Sikri to be an 'outstanding, totally upright, extremely competent and hard working judge'.
This has come in the wake of an article written in a news website, wherein the Narendra Modi government's decision to appoint Justice Sikri as the member of CSAT has been termed as 'plum posting'. He has further hit out at the news website for 'suppressing the full truth and presenting grossly distorted facts' in the matter.
It was learnt that Justice Sikri took the decision to withdraw his position from the CSAT amid the controversy that surfaced questioning his appointment after he took a stand for removal of Alok Verma as the CBI director.
Read the complete Facebook post by Justice Markandey Katju here -
While there are many crooked and corrupt officials and authorities in India, there are also some upright, hardworking and competent ones. It is the duty of the media to criticise and expose the former, but it is also its duty to protect and praise the latter.
But see how the media has behaved with Justice Sikri?
Here is an outstanding, totally upright, extremely competent and hard working judge, for which I can personally vouch as I was his Chief Justice in the Delhi High Court when he was a puisne judge in that Court, and I knew him intimately. Yet our mostly rotten and shameless media has sought to tarnish him in mud and ruin his reputation.
As Chief Justice of Delhi High Court I had not only to do judicial work but also a lot of administrative work, and so after finishing my judicial work at 4 p.m. I had usually to remain in the Court till about 8 p.m. doing administrative work. On finishing that I would often inquire if any other judge was still in his chamber? Invariably I was told that Justice Sikri was still there preparing his judgments, which he would do meticulously. I would go to his chamber and ask him to go home and not over strain and damage his health.
His reputation and integrity was impeccable. I never heard any complaint against him. And yet this is the man whom much of our media attacked yesterday, like hounds baying for his blood.
So let me tell the truth.
It all began with a story in theprint.in about Justice Sikri's nomination by the Union of India to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitration Tribunal ( CSAT ) for which Justice Sikri had given his consent. This part of the story was no doubt correct.
But a half truth can be as bad, if not worse than a total lie, as stated in the Latin maxim ' Suppressio veri suggestio falsus ' ( i.e. suppression of the truth is equivalent to expression of a falsehood ). The story published in theprint.in is guilty of suppressing the full truth, and presenting grossly distorted facts.
So let me tell the full truth:
Appointment of members of CSAT
1. The CSAT is a body which decides service disputes of Commonwealth employees. Its sittings are only held as and when an application is received from a Commonwealth employee alleging breach of contract of service. There are no sittings on regular basis, and its members are not based permanently in England. They go the Tribunal when there is some case to decide. That usually happens only 2 or 3 times a year. No regular salary is paid to its members. So the Tribunal members are not like judges of the International Court of Justice who sit permanently at The Hague and are paid regular salary.
So to call it a ' plum posting ' as was done in the story in theprint.in is a complete distortion and fake news. It is a low attempt by a journalist to sensationalise and peddle 'masala' to the public, which is the regular habit of most Indian journalists nowadays.
Justice Sikri's appointment by CJI as CSAT member took place days before the decision on removal of Alok Verma
2. Justice Sikri had been nominated to the CSAT by the CJI after taking his consent in the first week of December 2018, that is, more than a month before the Supreme Court judgment on 8.1.2019 which set aside the order sending Alok Verma on leave, and directing the High Powered Committee to decide the matter within a week. It was only after that judgment that the CJI nominated Justice Sikri to the High Powered Committee.
So to link up the decision of the Committee to remove Verma from the CBI with Justice Sikri's consent given a month earlier to be on the CSAT, as the story in theprint.in has tried to do, is absurd, and is another example of the shoddy fake news which most of the Indian media has made its regular habit.
When he gave his consent to be on the CSAT in the first week of December 2018 Justice Sikri was not a member of the High Powered Committee, and even the Supreme Court judgment of 8.1.2019 had not come. So how can it be insinuated, as the story in theprint.in has done, that the nomination of Justice Sikri to the CSAT was a quid pro quo for his decision to remove Verma from the CBI ?
3. Justice Sikri yesterday withdrew his consent to be on the CSAT
If the media has any shame left they will now apologise to Justice Sikri, whose image they tried their best to sully and besmear
Official sources said nomination of Sikri, who is set to retire on March 6, was made last month following an internal process carried out by the Law Ministry.
Justice Sikri, the second senior-most judge in the apex court after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was part of the three-member panel along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Congress leader Mallikajurn Kharge which decided on removal of Alok Verma from the post of CBI Director.
The External Affairs Ministry communicated to CSAT about India's nomination, the sources said. There was no reaction from either the Ministry of External Affairs or the Ministry of Law and Justice on it.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, established in 1965, plays the role of an arbiter in case of disputes among its 53 member-countries. The CSAT has a total of eight members, including its president. The members are picked up on the basis of regional representations. A CSAT member has a tenure of four years.