President Pranab Mukherjee hosted an ‘At Home’ on India’s 70th Independence Day on Monday where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CJI T S Thakur joked and laughed in an atmosphere of bonhomie, hours after the latter voiced dissatisfaction over PM’s Red Fort address having no mention of the problems faced by the judiciary.
The function was attended by a galaxy of dignitaries, including Vice President Hamid Ansari, his wife Salma, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, BJP veteran L K Advani and Vimla Sharma, wife of former President late Shankar Dayal Sharma, Union Ministers, three service chiefs and members of the diplomatic corps.
97-year-old Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh was also present.
After the national anthem was played, the President, whose term comes to an end next July, went around meeting the guests before taking his seat on the stage erected in the newly built ceremonial hall at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The venue of the ‘At Home’ was shifted to the ceremonial hall instead of the usual lush surroundings of the Mughal Gardens keeping in mind the chaos that prevailed during the last year’s function following heavy rain.
Prime Minister Modi was seen moving around the hall greeting and shaking hands with the guests, and receiving compliments for his Independence Day speech.
As the guests savoured refreshments and sipped tea, Modi and Chief Justice Thakur were seen chatting and laughing for a long time. The bonhomie continued even after the function had officially ended.
Modi also met wheelchair-bound Marshal Arjan Singh.
The standoff between the judiciary and the government has been continuing for quite some time now, particularly over the delay in appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
A reflection of it was in evidence when the Chief Justice of India said,"I heard the popular Prime Minister for one and a half hours… I expected some mention about justice also, about appointment of judges."
"I want to tell the Prime Minister only one thing, you remove poverty, create employment, bring schemes etc but also think about justice for the countrymen," Justice Thakur said at an event earlier during the day where Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was also present.