Justice Deepak Gupta, a retiring Supreme Court (SC) judge, recently said that India’s legal system is geared in favour of the rich and powerful. In his farewell address on May 6, he stated that judges ‘cannot hide their heads like an ostrich’ and that they must identify the problems with the judiciary and eventually deal with them.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the nationwide lockdown, Justice Gupta became the first judge in the country’s history to receive a farewell through video conferencing. He added that the legal system appeared to work faster if a rich person was behind the bars, while trials of the poor litigants got delayed. “If the rich or powerful is behind bars, he will approach the higher courts till he receives an order that the trial should be expedited. This process is done at the cost of the poor litigant whose trials get further delayed because the poor cannot approach the higher court easily,” he said.
SC judge Justice Deepak Gupta in Delhi: If a country has to grow holistically,there has be to very important role of dissent. In fact,dissent must be encouraged. In recent past,there have been some unfortunate incidents when dissent was termed as anti-national&cases were slapped. pic.twitter.com/BF8PBm2v5t
— ANI (@ANI) February 24, 2020
Justice Gupta explained that if a rich person is on bail or wants to delay a specific civil litigation, he can afford to approach the superior court again and again, to delay the trial till the other side gets extremely frustrated. Justice Deepak Gupta, who was the first chief justice of the Tripura High Court, said that it is up to the judiciary to ensure the integrity is not breached. The country has a lot of faith in the judiciary and the integrity of the institution cannot be held at stake under any circumstances.
The judge, who was elevated to top court in the year 2017, added that in a crisis like this the constitutional rights of the poorest of the poor will be violated. These people have no voice and if someone raises the voice for them, the courts must at least hear them and take a step, if possible.
In his tenure as a top court judge, Justice Gupta has been part of many prominent judgements including the 2017 verdict that sex with a minor wife despite consent is considered as rape.