Supreme Court smacks down Swamy: “Who are you?”


Lost in speed
“The original plan was that Marines would not return, Ambassador would be expelled and Italy will not expose ‘the family’,” tweeted a triumphant Subramanian Swamy when the Italian government announced its decision to send back the awol Italian marines. “Had I not turned up in SC and asked for restraining the Amb and an exchange of hot words with CJI, the matter would have…” he claimed, leaving his loyal Twitter brigade to perform the assigned task of granting credit where it was most undue. Thus it was that the Hindu right added a new tale of Swamy sorcery to its lore: Swamy’s PIL forced the Supreme Court to take action against the Italian ambassador, which in turn created the needed leverage to bring Rome to its knees. And everyone lived happily ever after etc.

That’s until the Chief Justice of India decided to rain on Swamy’s victory parade.

The smackdown was delivered in the courtroom soon after the bench rescinded the ban preventing the Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country. The move spurred Swamy into action, and eagerly remind the Court of his now legendary contempt application against the Italian envoy. CJI Altamas Kabir’s response was not quite as anticipated, as the Telegraph reports:

Here comes the favorite part

Who are you?” the Chief Justice asked Swamy, who said he had moved the contempt application. “I am asking you, who are you?” the judge responded. “I am sorry you are not an advocate. You have no right to appear. You have no right to argue. What will happen if any person on the road comes and says I want to argue. You might have done it earlier, but we will not allow you.
In a nation where “Do you know who I am?” is the ultimate assertion of power, that’s pretty much the mother of all insults. But Kabir wasn’t finished downgrading Swamy. He went on to order him out of the front row, which is “meant for lawyers, not for litigants. You have no right to sit there”.

Declared a nobody and ordered out of the VIP seats! Surely enough cause to scream conspiracy, and so Swamy predictably did: ”There is a collusion here,” he declared. The proclamation did little to endear him to an already irate judge, leaving Swamy with only one way out — as in, right out of the courtroom.

The moral of this mini melodrama: Never rob a Supreme Court judge. Chief justices don’t take kindly to anyone stealing their judicial glory.

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