Judiciary- torchbearer or trespasser?


Lord Bryce once said,”If the lamp of justice goes out in darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Montesquieu tried to appear as a moderator in the tug of war between the various institutions of a functional democracy. The Separation of Powers proved to be a futile experiment as the difference between legitimate intervention and interference came to seen as highly spurious.

The present Government has been facing the flak from the judiciary on a varied number of issues. The most recent judgement on the Uttarakhand deadlock has made the government loose a quantum of self esteem.

The annexationist executive for now at least will look to avoid a scenario where the government finds itself in a flawed position. More so, because the government in the past could not materialise its NJAC agenda with Ravishankar Prasad accusing the judiciary of ignorance of the value of elected representatives.

But when the Parliament ‘elected representatives’ who cannot fare better even as a Sarpanch or a Panchayat Pradhan are MPs and the Temple of Democracy is recalcitrant-can we expect a reluctant judiciary? The quality of debate has followed a downhill, with speakers in Parliament coming with the additional burden of spraying pepper in their colleague’s eyes.

Derek O Brien of the TMC in an interview to Barkha Dutt used the idiom ” I will scratch your back and you will scratch mine” to underline the behind the door understandings between two pan Indian National Parties-a system of democracy that is slowly becoming truly bipolar in more ways than one increasing chances of botch ups.

The judiciary was bolstered with criticism by the Union Finance Minister of the Country. Incidentally, the Congress party alongside other political parties chose to remain on the side of the government.

History says when the political class unites, it is to save its own interests from getting squelched. When you get to see ideologically or opportunistic adversarial political parties coming together to press their demand for a pay hike, then you surely come to know the seriousnessof their self accaimed virtues.

The judiciary has also crossed the Lakshman Rekha in an attempt to come across as the ultimate authority of the Constitution. The tactical ball game played by the Judiciary in the First and Second Judge’s cases further prove the theorem of judicial activism.

Even the opaque system of selection of judges and politicisation of the judiciary is a truth that cannot be denied by the most ardent follower of the legal system.

But the seriousness of the government can be questioned with ease, even if the demanour of the judiciary in certain cases are instrumental in enterprising the dictatorship of the nyalyaya.

The government has chosen to bark when its interests looks compromised. The question of judiciary’s bias has been a permanent feature through the years. The repentance of Justice Verma on the misinterpretation of his judgement was used as a point of reference by Arun Jaitley in the Legislature vs Judiciary debate moderated by Arnab Goswami of Times Now.

Judges have been seen wining and dining in embassies which have raised eyebrows of many people. The West Bengal CM has alleged in the past that favourable judgements were being exchanged for money. A case was lodged against her because of the remarks.

But the political class still dominates the proceedings of the judiciary directly or tacitly. Grapevine has it that Gopal Subramanian was not promoted in the legal ladder because of his judgement which went against Amit Shah.

On a similar note, the Emergency was put in place mainly because of one judgement of Jagmohanlal Sinha. Seniority as a principle was breached in 1973 and 1977 in the process of the election of the CJI because the seniormost judges could not place the hat at the Ephemeral Dictator’s feet.

The judiciary needs modification for sure. But before that it is the Legislature that needs to go through (to quote JP) “total revolution.”

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Cometh the truth


There is an old adage in Bengali- Sin doesn’t even spare its father. Leaving the responsibility of admonishing the gender prejudice in the idiom to someone else, it is time perhaps to revisit the responsibility of truth and vice-versa.

Can my truth be loyal to yours? Can your truth be omnipresent? Can there be something between the lines? Am I being unnecessarily cynical by magnifying the ‘dubiousness’ of the lines? Or is it necessary to challenge a particular version of truth not for the heck of it, but to only skeptically materialise the pertinent and objective requirement?

The post colonial version of history has too many nationalistic tendencies which according to the Western pundits is based on wild imaginations. The concept of India was patronised by the British says the British. Is it megalomania, or an insecurity of judgement?

The different versions of historiography has different implications. Historical characters are often deified, often demonized based on political standpoints or ideological differences.

Bhagat Singh hurled bombs, because of which many books actually regard him as a terrorist. Though he accepted his revolutionarism as distinct from terrorism. Now can a freedom fighter, who is too a human being with his imperfections stubble over what constitutes permissible violence and what constitutes illegitimate, oppressive violence?

The view of history has been unchallenged for decades as we have been fed stale material authored by pale historians.There is also the school of thought of historians which egregiously blunders due to its conspicuous biases.

Can the Marxist school of history do away with dialectical materialism? Can Subaltern historiography ever give respect to the command of charismatic, famed or ill famed individuals disobeying its principle of making people aware of the contribution of an ordinary Hindu/Muslim instead of a Sher Shah or Ashoka?

The binding value of truth is relative, and dependent on your power to imbibe the virtues and vices of your choice. When a few months back a best selling author questioned whether chronicliasation was the only forlorn work of a historian, the otherwise communally polarised social media discussed the brains of the author for a change.

So who takes the responsibility and definition of the truth whose infidelity and elusiveness is worth persuing as a mechanism to objectify the boundless around us. 

Is it ‘sinful’ to have a different version of truth. Or do all truths have grey shades with extremes only the refuge of a scoundrel?