Religion has a place in society: CJI-designate Justice S.A. Bobde

Religion has a place in society: CJI-designate Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde
Religion has a place in society: CJI-designate Justice SA Bobde

“People approach the apex court to exercise their right to freedom of religion”.  

In what could come as a boost for religious bodies, Chief Justice of India-designate, Justice S.A. Bobde, holds the view that every religion has beliefs that may not be supported by reason. Practices that are not violative of the rule of law would have a place.

“Every religion has its own practices which are a mystery. There are beliefs not supported by reason. Look at the very act of praying… every religion has its own way of praying and conditions for offering prayers,” Justice Bobde said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu.

“The legislature and courts have intervened in the past to abolish religious practices which are a crime under the law. The legislature and courts have struck a balance in the past.

“For instance, if you sacrifice somebody, then it is murder. That is how Sati was abolished. It was murder under the law,” he said.  

Matters of Faith

“People approach the apex court to exercise their right to freedom of religion. The perception (in cases concerning matters of faith) is that the fundamental rights have been breached. Obviously, the Supreme Court is the right forum.”

Justice Bobde would be sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India on November 18.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

His priority

“Battles for life, liberty must take priority. Matters involving huge commercial interests require priority. Matters involving political problems and roads in the North East need priority… Sometimes our priorities are not visible to people at large.”

Authorities under threat

“It is not just the judiciary… What is happening in society? There is challenge to the authority of parents, schools, Parliament. This is the age of challenging authority. Questioning by itself is healthy, but it should not be malafide and vicious. Personal attacks on judges are uncalled for and destructive.”

Ties with Government

“There is excellent communication between the Supreme Court and the government. Now, it is as good as it gets.”

Appointment process of judges

“The Supreme Court has said what it wants to say in the NJAC judgment.”

Need for a set of rules framed for judges’ recusal

“Recusal is a voluntary act and an act of conscience. Parties can bring their apprehensions to the notice of the judge, but they cannot ask for recusal. That will pose a danger to the system. That is if the parties think they are about to lose a case, they will immediately ask for recusal of the judge.”

Live-recording of court proceedings

“This has to be carefully considered. Deciding to allow it or not could be subjective. I’m not sure what the effect would be. It will depend on the person in focus.”

On fewer holidays for the apex court

“This is not the kind of job you do continuously. The task of judging a case does create a lot of pressure, fatigue, stress, and even ill-health. It is absolutely important to unwind and be able to reflect without any pressure, which is what we do during (court) vacations.”

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