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Spare the Judiciary: Five Topmost Judges of India Need Patient Hearing to Tide Over the Crises

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Judiciary is the only institution that sustains our faith in democracy as the filthy politicians of all shades have vitiated both the legislature and the executive; and as far as the press is concerned, the less said the better! It is fatally compromised, opines Prof. Ashoka, reacting to the mudslinging and barbs at the five top judges of the Apex Court. Here’s a follow-up of his earlier opinion piece[i], exclusively for Different Truths.   

As a qualified barrister, a judge’s son and someone whose seven generations from both sides have continuously served the legal profession for over 200 years, I observe the developments over the last 56 hours with increasing anguish and dismay!  

Judiciary is the only institution that sustains our faith in democracy as the filthy politicians of all shades have vitiated both the legislature and the executive; and as far as the press is concerned, the less said the better! It is fatally compromised as it stands!  

It is not that the judiciary in our country is without flaws. The lower judiciary, in particular, has lost a lot of credibilities and I have myself expressed my concern over the conduct of three serving judges of the Delhi lower judiciary to the Chief Justice.  

But it is my faith in the institution of the judiciary which provides me hope for the future; not the filthy politicians!  

I would concur that it is irregular for sitting judges of the Apex Court to hold a press conference about their unease with the process of judicial administration.  As a long-term observer of the judiciary, I have never seen that happen in a democratic country.  But I have observed very closely the workings of the Supreme Court and unless I get to know more about the whole episode, I would not draw any inferences on the motives of the respective judges! All five of them have had a distinguished track record, which speaks for itself and I unequivocally deprecate the ill-informed and poltroonish imputations that have been made by those who in all probability have never read any of their rulings and perhaps, more importantly, cannot make out a writ from a suit!

Dipak Mishra’s rulings have been expounded extensively in three of the national newspapers. The only unsolicited advice I can proffer to the learned judge is that he does not have to imitate the great Justice Krishna Iyer’s vocabulary for which lesser mortals like myself had to consult the dictionary after every second sentence; his own style would amply convey what he attempts to communicate.  With Justice Krishna Iyer, it appeared natural; in this case, it does not as even I can follow him! We are all the richer for the positions he had taken. 

I condemn the attempt to diminish him by harping on the fact that he is Justice Ranganath Mishra’s nephew. The latter was an earlier Chief Justice, who later on joined active politics as a member of the ruling party in the early 90’s and who is believed to have been less than helpful with his report of the pogrom against the Sikhs. Dipak Mishra cannot help being the nephew of his uncle and I have noticed that he had deviated from his uncle’s position in a number of rulings!

Justice Chelameshwar is internationally regarded as the most erudite judge in the Apex Court today and we are infinitely better off with his judgement identifying the right to privacy as being fundamental. His judgements are by far the most incisive and cogent. He has been critical of both the present and the past governments as anyone who has followed his judgements would know. 

It is churlish to impute motives to him because a politician visited him. Instead of rushing to draw an inference, it would be of paramount importance to hear out his side of the story as well. While it was injudicious on part of a Communist politician to have visited him so soon after the press conference, I fail to see how he could be held responsible for this indiscretion.

Justice Joseph’s reasoning in the triple talaaq judgement should be a sine qua non for every law student. I condemn the reference made about his religious affiliation.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi made the country a fairer and a better place by requiring every election candidate to mandatorily declare his/her assets! I detest the imputation being made about him being a Congress I CM’s son. 

May I remind the detractors that there have been several instances of judicial figures from leading political families and if this indeed was a concern, it should have been addressed at the time of appointment?  Some of these judges from political families have made stellar contributions e.g., Chief Minister Kailash Nath Katju’ s two sons and grandson all became high court judges and frequently deviated from the Congress and later Congress I’s positions in their rulings. There were others like Vijay Bahuguna, who disgraced himself and returned to politics. He changed parties and I do not need to remind anyone which party he belongs to as of today!

Madan Lokur was a class fellow in school.  Luckily he had been spared the barbs and we are much better for his judgement on underage sex.

We need all of these people more than we need the filthy politicians and their uninformed acolytes! And for the sake of the country, we hope they would resolve their problems without any political input!

In evaluating a judge with several years experience it is the expressed judicial wisdom that should count rather than the antecedents. Hugo Black one of the greatest judges in the US was once a member of the ultra-racist Ku Klux Klan. Earl Warren, a very great judge, was once an arch-conservative governor of California. And Anthony Kennedy in my view the greatest serving judge at present was a Reagan appointee who gained his place on account of his perceived right-wing positions! 

Let us exercise maturity and not be swayed by our primitive basal instincts; the country needs it!

©Prof. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

Photos from the Internet


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