Quest for Justice-Dharma

August 27, 2009 at 6:10 am Leave a comment

Justices and Justice-a ringside perception

According to CJI Justice Balakrishnan- the high court Justice Kumar of Karnataka –is media crazy. Then is the CJI publicity crazy? This cannot be ruled out because on various occasions Justice Balakrishnan has spoken out when prudence and judiciary probity would have expected him to keep his counsel to himself. Justices are not above law. The judiciary is a creature of the Constitution and the Justices are to serve the people- by interpreting law and therby upholding the Constitution. The slide down of the judiciary started when Indira Gandhi called for a ‘committed judiciary’ her intent was clear-committed to whom- to the powerful and the ruling class? A simple question is are judges above the law and as public servants are they not accountable to the people? To disclose or not to disclose the assets was the first disquieting dilemma. Once the judiciary realized that the public was critical of its reluctance to disclose the assets the CJI came out that if there is a law the judges would abide by it. Need this be stated in words? Then the CJI clarified his stand that he is against disclosures and making it public for two reasons-1-that it will cause unnecessary harassments 2-that the judges are already coming from wealthy families so their assets do not indicate their hefty salaries paid by the tax payers’ monies.
The Judges are qualified to interpret law-and apparently bestow justice to those who seek it why the problem for rendering justice to themselves. Why are they not able to meet the harassment as all other citizens of India who are illiterate as far as law is concerned and who are unaware of the loopholes in the law to wriggle out.-If the Judges come from wealthy family what’s the problem in pointing out their sources of income. The problem arises when the assets are disproportionate to known sources of income. Make the sources of income available for scrutiny along with disclosure of assets-where will the problem arise?
So it looked clear that the CJI was very guarded in this disclosure business and was not for it. Then he went a step forward by saying that he has no problem if judges disclose their assets voluntarily. Naturally how can he even comment on ‘voluntary disclosures? One would have expected the CJI to set the example by voluntarily disclosing his assets. This would have sent a positive message. On the other hand he seems to be hedging. Is this media crazy or publicity seeking?
Where was the need for the CJI of India to tell the media that in Tamilnadu Judge’s Regupathy’s statement that a Union minister had tried to influence him was not correct. Initially Justice Balakrishnan deplored the interference in the judiciary. This was a correct stand-but later he told the media that he found it was not true and that the phone call was make in the chamber of the Judge by the lawyer. Was it judicial probity for the CJI to make this clarification? This clearly sent out the wrong signal The CJI sought the impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen when he refused to resign, but took a different view/or did not insist when it came to the case of Nirmal Yadha of the Punjab-Harayan High Court in the cash-for judge case.
Just because Justice Kumar of Karnataka High Court stated that he would disclosure his assets voluntarily he is made to look as a black sheep! Media crazy he was accused of by the CJI and now Union Minister Veerappa Moily backed this allegation of the CJI and added his vocabulary to this, by saying that if Judges want to disclosure their assets voluntarily and become heroes it is their wish. The very term ‘voluntary’ denotes one’s own volition. It is beyond one’s comprehension why these kind of left handed compliments are extended to those Judges who are coming forward by themselves without compulsion of law to disclosure their assets voluntarily? Is it reprehensive or some kind of defiance or is it because according to their consciences they have nothing to hide as far as their assets are concerned?
Now it is almost certain that this stage is over and the law will soon be introduced for the Judges to disclose their assets. There is a rider here-the disclosure follows a procedure-the Judges will disclose their assets The Judges to the CJI, and the CJI to the President. Is this a hierarchical disclosure exercise of classified secrets? Then pray I beg to ask, ‘Your Hon our’ why the disclosures at all?’ Where do the People who are their paymasters come into the picture and to what use are these disclosures. And why this reluctance of accountability to the people?
Let it not be overlooked that the public are aware of the corruption in the judiciary. The lower courts and the High courts and finally the SC all are at variance when it comes to interpreting the Constitution and in extending justice. It is relevant to note a few examples of the kind of justice that prevails:–The SC validated a hurried passed law by Parliament to protect 55 MPs from disqualification because they held offices of profit, .A bench of the SC held that an MP could not be automatically disqualified for holding an office of profit. It was for Parliament to decide what constituted an office of profit as each office has a separate and different function. The very reading of this makes no sense because no two offices will be the same and function similarly. How can this be left to the MPs to decide because they are the violators and they sit in judgment on their own cases? Will they be just and disqualify themselves? So they pass a law to validate and make sure their MPs seats are reserved for the next five years. Where do the people appeal to? Had the SC not abdicated its justice role? So it goes to prove that at times vested interest conspire against the people. The State of Maharastra is challenging the dropping of the MCOCA against the accused in the Malegoan case. After a lapse of two years the law ministry plans to move the SC challenging the acquittal of actor Sanjay Dutt of TADA charges. In the mass genocide of the Sikhs in 1984 Jagdish Tyler is freed. To a common person like me Justice seem to be available only at the SC level. How many can reach that level? Second why should the lower courts and the perception of the High courts be at variance in interpreting the law? Why those political bigwigs are rarely punished? I may be wrong but this is the general perception. You have money and power then you can buy justice. Does this mean that justice is available only for the rich and the politically powerful? A petty thief is thrown in the prison and languishes for years without even trial, but a murderer stands for election and wins. All this goes to substantiate how justice is perceived and operated in this country. Corruption does not mean in accruing of assets but also of being lured by high offices after the tenure in the judiciary. Corruption means when the people are betrayed of justice when the loopholes are widened and the political class are allowed to escape through-corruption means when people are cheated and denied of justice.
Still the only hope for the people lies in the judiciary and hence the judiciary whether it is in the disclosure of their assets and its accountability need to turn the search light of justice within themselves-their individual souls and as a Constitutional body to stand by Justice and treat all equally-to lead the people in the quest for justice.-this is its Dharma
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara.

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