NEW DELHI: The Congress on Sunday questioned Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's remarks that high courts are "running a parallel government in the country", and asked whether the statement was meant to browbeat the courts.
Accusing the government of displaying an arrogant attitude, former law minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, "I wonder if this is meant to browbeat the courts. This is certainly a very arrogant attitude that should not be articulated in this fashion."
The Congress also said that the government had displayed a similar arrogance in the past, with Sibal citing instances and alleging that some judges were transferred after they delivered judgements that were "uncomfortable".
"This government has in the past displayed this kind of arrogance", he said, noting that both the courts and the government should take note of this.
"Unless the courts are alive to what is happening on the ground, this kind of attack and expression is not conducive to a democratic environment," he said.
Sibal added that this government also called a journalist a "vulture", and in saying so "I feel the government has forgotten its culture and we condemn this".
He said journalists are committed by their profession "to clean up the vicious environment" in this country.
Noting that March 24 (when the nationwide lockdown was announced) was a "watershed moment", he said the people of the country have forced the government to forget its agenda of polarisation and instead focus on problems posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sibal also took a swipe at the Centre, saying, "The government's social distancing with people has increased so much that it does not know what is happening on the ground and how to address the problems faced by people, especially the poor."
"The future history books will recognise this government as the harbinger of doom. The prime minister talks about protecting democracy, until March 24 they throttled democracy," he alleged.
The former law minister said prior to March 24, the agenda of the government was about Article 370, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, National Register of Citizens (NRC), population register, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Triple Talaq, and not education, healthcare, concerns of the poor.
"Had this government in the last six yrs concentrated on issues concerning people, India would have been different today," he said.
Sibal noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the government's helplessness and the rift that was created in the society has been bridged by people themselves as they stand in solidarity with one another to overcome the current challenges.
"I want to ask PM that at least now tell us what is your definition of your fellow Indians. Does that definition fit into what happened prior to March 24. At least now change the way you are handling the future of this country," the Congress leader asked.