The order of a judge of the Gujarat High Court where he remarked on reservation almost led to his impeachment before the offending paragraph was deleted.
By Kaushik Joshi
In a surprising turn of events, an inn-ocuous remark in a judicial order by Justice JB Pardiwala snowballed into a major controversy in the Gujarat High Court recently.
On December 1, 2015, while deciding a petition moved by Hardik Patel (leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti who is spearheading the Patel quota agitation) and others to quash sedition charges against them, Justice Pardiwala had in para 62 of the judgment observed: “If I am asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather have not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then the same are (i) Reservation and (ii) Corruption. It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after 65 years of independence….”
Irked by this comment on reservation, as many as 58 Rajya Sabha MPs petitioned its chairman and Vice-President Hamid Ansari to initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice Pardiwala. The MPs included senior Congressman Oscar Fernandes, CPI leader D Raja and Janata Dal (U) leader KC Tyagi.
A judge of the Supreme Court or a high court can be removed only by an order of the President of India and that too after adoption of an impeachment motion by each House of parliament by a majority not less than two-thirds of the total membership of that House.
Alarmed by the ugly turn of events, Advocate-general of Gujarat Kamal Trivedi and public prosecutor Mitesh Amin decided to file a Speaking to Minutes note to put the matter to quietus by requesting the Court to delete the controversial observations.
Amin informed India Legal that it was felt that the remarks in para 62 of the judgment were not relevant for deciding the main matter. Acting on the request, a single-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court presided over by Justice JB Pardiwala ordered the deletion of the “anti-reservation” observations in para 62 of the judgment.
BM Mangukiya, the advocate who appeared for the original applicant submitted that he had no objection if para 62 was deleted from the original judgment.
Justice Pardiwala then observed in his order dated December 18, 2015: “I am of the view that having regard to the relief prayed for in the main matter which was an application under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, for the quashing of the FIR, para 62 was not relevant or necessary for deciding the main matter.”
The court accepted the prayer of the state and ordered deletion of this para 62. It also directed the registry to issue a fresh certified copy of the judgment. Thus, a judicial order took a dramatic shift not witnessed in years.