DC Edit | No interviews by judges, please
An American novelist and public intellectual, famous for his epigrammatic wit, once quipped in a didactic guidance for modern life: “People should never turn down sex or an opportunity to appear on television.”
Sound advice for private citizens but, alas, those in public life, holding constitutional positions, and especially those with power to influence or interpret policy and law, and judge fellow humans and institutions are indeed subject to a stricter morality and must exercise greater restraint in conduct. They may even have to barter such commonplace privileges in exchange for their office.
Thus indeed no less a body than the Supreme Court has made the same observation after seeking a factual verification of reports as to whether Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the Calcutta high court had indeed given an interview on the subject of the teachers’ recruitment. The school service commission “scam” is a subject of a political controversy and is currently under court scrutiny. The matter is being heard by the said judge, and a CBI probe has been ordered by him.
The apex court chided the potential error, saying firmly that judges “have no business” granting interviews to media on pending matters.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha, which has asked the registrar-general of the high court to submit a factual clarification about the episode, was possibly preoccupied with the thought that the power to sit in judgment of fellow human beings requires an equipollent sacrifice. The lives of judges must be above controversy, and, indeed, a reticent, hermit-like, lifestyle is expected from people holding high judicial office. Justice Chandrachud was, therefore, on the mark when he questioned whether a judge who “has given an interview on a political personality like this” should continue to hear the matter.
The bottomline: No TV interviews for judges, most certainly not on matters they are currently hearing, or are even likely to hear, because, like Caesar’s wife, they must be above the remotest suspicion of bias.