Images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Union government slogan in the footer of official emails sent by the Supreme Court had become a hot topic of discussion among Supreme Court lawyers. It appears that the images and banners were placed by default by the National Center for Informatics, which manages the official domain of the Court.
An embarrassed Supreme Court quickly ordered the National Center for Informatics (NIC) to remove the image of Prime Minister Modi and the central government banner from official court letters. As directed by the court, the NIC has now placed the image of the Supreme Court in the footer of official letters.
However, it appears that many courts and quasi-judicial bodies have not followed the message conveyed by the Supreme Court. Photos of the Prime Minister as well as congratulatory messages for the Center still appear on the official websites of many courts, giving the impression that the lines of the separation of powers are blurred.
National Commission for the Settlement of Consumer Disputes
The official site of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has a moving banner that says “Thank you PM Modi” in Hindi and English for providing free vaccines to everyone.
Here are the screenshots from the site at 11:39 a.m. on September 25:
The official pages of ITAT, CAT, CCI, APTEL have images of PM Modi with the message “Azadi Ki Amrit Mahotsav” from the Center.
Income Tax Appeal Tribunal
The screenshot of the official site from ITAT, at 11:41 a.m., September 25, 2021:
Central administrative court
The screenshot of the official site of the Central Administrative Court, at 11:42 a.m. on September 25, 2021:
Electricity Appeal Tribunal
The screenshot of the official site from the Electricity Appeal Tribunal at 11:44 a.m. on September 25.
Competition Commission of India
The screenshot of the official site from the CCI at 11:45 a.m. on September 25.
National Court of Company Law
The screenshot of the official site from the CCI at 11:48 a.m. on September 25.
The presence of images of the head of the political executive on official websites reduces the stature of the Courts, which are often called upon to monitor the legality of government actions. It certainly disrupts the perception of judicial independence.
The official sites of these Courts are maintained by the NIC.
In this regard, it is relevant to note that the Supreme Court recently took serious note of the functioning of the Courts, which are weighed down by growing backlogs and unfilled vacancies. The court has severely criticized the central government for failing to heed its various directives aimed at strengthening the independence of the courts.
The Court ordered the constitution of a National Commission of Courts to release the courts from the control of the respective ministries.
“A constant complaint has been that the Courts are not free from the control of the Executive and that they are not seen as independent judicial bodies. indirectly”, the court observed last year in the Madras Bar case.
Since the central government has not yet implemented this direction, the courts continue to operate under the aegis of the Union Ministry.
In the recent Madras Bar Association-II decision, the Supreme Court made several important observations regarding the need to maintain the independence of the courts.
“The independence of the courts from the executive and the legislature is fundamental to the rule of law and one of the fundamental principles of the Indian Constitution. The separation of powers between the three organs, namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, is a consequence of the principles of equality enshrined in article 14 of the Constitution. Any foray into the judicial field by the other two branches of government would therefore be unconstitutional ”, the Court had said.