Sometimes, the limitations of the English language seem to be coming in the way of their Lordships (in this case, a Ladyship, too) in giving full vent to their judicial fury. In a case involving the breach of a commitment made to the Supreme Court on misleading ads by Patanjali Ayurved, a bench comprising justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah threatened to ”rip apart” the Uttarakhand regulatory body for sleeping on the job.


The Times of India quotes the bench as saying: “We are not going to leave you. We will rip you apart. Except for pushing your files, your officers did nothing. It looks like you were not even aware of the law. You are hand-in-glove with them.”

In case the bench wanted to use more colourful language, Bollywood provides many such phrases.

Our heroes, while disembowelling villains, routinely use sentence like, “Kutte, main tera khoon pee jaoonga” (Dog, I will drink your blood), or if they were looking for something closer to the sentence they actually used (“We are not going to leave you. We will rip you apart”), they could have tried, “Kamine, main tujhe chodunga nahin. Main tera khal ukhad dunga”.

Then there is also the phrase used by street mobs when protesting contempt of the Prophet, “Gustakh-e-Rasool, Sar Tan Se Juda”. Since the Patanjali duo, Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev and his disciple Balkrishna, were said to be guilty of “gustakhi” against the prophets of justice sitting in highest court, they could have said, “Gustakh-e-Adalat, Sar Tan Se Juda.”

While the Yoga Guru, his disciple and their company may possibly be guilty of wilfully ignoring the commitments made to the court on the kind of ads they use with their products, the question is whether the court should be using such street-level thug language.

The “rip you apart” phrase was not used for the Yoga Guru, but the Uttarakhand Licensing Authority. The principle remains valid regardless of whether it was used for Baba Ramdev or the hapless licensing authority.

This is not the first time the higher judiciary has made outrageous comments in the cases coming up before it, though such comments usually do not find a place in their final orders.

In the infamous Nupur Sharma case, where there was “secular” outrage over her remarks on the Prophet, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, with justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala on it, accused her of having a “loose tongue”.

They held her verbally responsible for “what is happening in the country” (ie, Islamists out on the streets threatening beheadings, which followed in due course). They also asked whether she was under threat or the threat herself. This intemperate statement was condemned by many high-profile public intellectuals, but it was the bench’s statements that hogged the headlines.

During the 2021 assembly elections, when the Covid was a threat, the Madras High Court threatened to impose “murder” charges against the Election Commission for allegedly not implementing Covid protocols during the election campaigning.

These charges were later admitted to be over-the-top, “harsh” and “metaphor inappropriate”, by a Chief Justice-led bench, but by then the damage to the Election Commission’s reputation was done.

Isn’t it time the Supreme Court reined in its judicial officers from using unwarranted language in hearings, which tend to get widely reported?

Is it okay to use street-thug terminology, even assuming the person being judged is guilty as charged?

Why would the lower courts not be influenced by the use of such language when it comes from the highest courts in the land?

Or is the ripping apart of the current judicial system the only remedy, so that a more responsive and sensible system is put in its place?

This article first appeared in and it belongs to them.