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Archive for March, 2011

Wake Up Call for the Chief Justice of India

Wake Up Call for the Chief Justice of India
Chief Justice’s sermon to the judges (Indian Express 13.3.11) that they should not give lectures to society, should not judge the wisdom of legislatures and should not speak anything beyond the principles of a particular case sent a shock wave down the spine of even the spineless souls. It is a heartbreaking commentary on the evolvement of mankind and reaffirms the truth that wisdom is not an automatic byproduct of age or of the position one occupies. It is sad that the Chief Justice of the world’s largest democracy is to be reminded of the oath he took, “I will bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established, will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, will duly and faithfully perform the duties of the office without fear or favour, affection or ill will and will uphold the constitution and laws.” The constitution on which the CJI took oath to uphold starts with the pledge to secure for all its citizens justice social, economic and political & equality of status.
We all know that the dream of the framers of the constitution to wipe the last tear from the last eye is nowhere near realization only because of corruption at higher places. It is high time all of us including the judges perform all our duties in the light of this fact that corruption is the root cause of miseries of millions of fellow citizens who go to bed on an empty stomach. More than seventeen thousand farmers committed suicide during the year 2010. Millions have no access to drinking water, basic health facilities and primary education. About twenty lakh children die every year within five years of their birth and almost fifty percent of children are malnourished. Even as per the Government’s own survey about thirty seven percent Indians are living below the poverty line and one third of districts are affected by violence. About two hundred and eighty lakh crore have been siphoned to tax havens and no sincere efforts are being made to bring back that money. The real cause of misery to millions of fellow human beings, who are not able to get even one square meal a day leave alone a dignified life is rampant corruption, which is at its peak and no institution including the Parliament, Armed Forces and Judiciary can claim to be unaffected.
It is the fundamental duty of not just the Chief Justice but every citizen of India as per article 51 A of the constitution to abide by the constitution. This article also exhorts the citizens to uphold and protect the sovereignty, integrity and unity of India, to promote harmony and brotherhood and to safeguard public property. We all know of the serious allegations of loot against the legislatures and other corrupt wings of the society. It is difficult to find role models for the gen next and CJI still
insists that the judiciary should refrain from lecturing the society. In a way CJI exhorted the judges not to perform the fundamental duty of even an average citizen. An enlightened poet said it so beautifully,
Which means that if despite knowing the miseries of the poor you can still have a smile on your face that means you are a stone hearted person.
His Excellency A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the then President of India on his visit to the Supreme Court of India gave his message in somewhat these words – “You are 26 Judges of the Supreme Court. You are 26 role models of judiciary for this nation of more than one billion people. People look up to you for vindicating their grievances and for removal of injustice. You must come up to their expectations. You must have a vision and do your best to give shape to your vision”. Manusmriti says, ‘If justice was destroyed by injustice, or truth by falsehood and if the judges were mere spectators, then they will be considered as offenders.’ It also divided the guilt of injustice to various people. One quarter of the guilt of an unjust decision falls on the offender, one quarter on the false witness, one quarter on all the judges, one quarter on the king.
At the demise of one of the most popular though controversial judge of this century, Tony Blair said, “Lord Denning was prepared to use the law for its true purpose in the interests of fairness and justice. He had a tremendous feel for ordinary people.” I am sure lord Denning must be turning in his grave to digest the sermon of CJI. The other two great judges of Supreme Court justice Krishna Iyer and former CJI Justice Verma have quite often lectured the society and have never minced words while speaking in favour of the common man. I feel proud to belong to a judicial system, which rightly boasts of many wise judges starting from a small cause court to the Supreme Court but I am sorry to say that CJI has not shown the statesmanship and concern for millions of the poor while delivering the above speech.
We all know how the legislatures cutting across party lines were allegedly involved in Jain Hawala case. Who can forget the total subversion of democracy by the legislatures in JMM case and ultimate failure of Supreme Court at the historic moment? The recent ‘Cash for Vote’ scandal is yet another example of their wisdom CJI talked about. Neera Radia’s tape and her conversations with Rattan Tata exposed the unscrupulous deeds of legislatures and judges but no one worth his salt from Tata’s highly placed community said a word against him. In fact many are perceived to be helping him despite this expose.
If despite seeing the miseries of millions we remain silent and sermon others to do so, we must introspect and reflect upon our thoughts and deeds. I strongly feel that CJI has demoralized the force he is leading and millions of citizens looking to Judiciary as the last hope to save the country. I am amazed that despite knowing fully well how seriously the bills are discussed in the parliament and legislative assemblies, how the legislatures behave, how many of them are allegedly involved in serious criminal offences and how many of them are role models for the society, CJI still says don’t judge their wisdom. Who else will judge if not a Judge? If the constitution mandates even the common man to uphold the constitution and to safeguard public property do we mean that a judge is not to perform even the fundamental duty of a citizen and is to be a meek spectator to the loot of national resources? How wonderfully the great poet Iqbal commented upon such a situation,
Which means take care of the nation which is on the verge of calamity, the whole universe is aware of your miseries, if yet you don’t act, you will not even find mention in the stories. How aptly the poet wrote about those in deep slumber even after seeing that fifty crore are going to bed on an empty stomach not to talk of leading a dignified life and equal status dreamt by the framers of constitution. It is good that sensitive and wise judges like Markandey Katju and A K Ganguli have ignored CJI’s advice and lectured the society the very next day of his sermons. I feel that CJI has lost the moral authority to lead because of his insensitive and irresponsible speech. People have already started speculating that CJI is trying to woo the legislatures with an eye on retirement plans and they seem justified after this speech. A leader has to lead from the front especially in the hour of crisis and if despite knowing the plight of fifty crore CJI chose to dissuade the forces, the only option left with him is that he must resign at the earliest to pave way for an able statesman who can refurbish the moral and image of the judiciary. (20.3.11)
Ashok Arora, former Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association
ashok@aroraz.com– SMS +919810062089 http://www.ashokarora.net

Not This Time Mylord

Not This Time Mylord
We all know that the Supreme Court failed the nation many times in the past like in ADM Jabalpur, PV Narsimha Rao’s, Hawala and JMM bribery cases. We missed the opportunities to stem the rot, which is the root cause of miseries being inflicted to unfortunate millions not getting one square meal a day. We should all pray to almighty that this time the court does not miss the opportunity to serve the cause of humanity by bringing the crooks to the book.
Neera Radia’s tapes have exposed the magnitude of the corruption in India. Rattan Tata’s petition filed in the Supreme Court to prevent publication of taped conversation between Radia and others has generated a lot of public interest. Interestingly the petition does not even mention as to which portion of publication infringes his right of privacy. I have never seen such a frivolous petition being entertained by any court but for the other similar petition filed on the same issue and court passing a shocking order to stay the publication of tapes in Amar Singh’s case.
The conversations in the transcripts shockingly expose how the so-called lobbyist Radia, hired by Tata was able to manipulate the system and had influenced even the formation of union cabinet. She seems more of a fixer and tout as she corrupted the total system unto the top and Tata was not only party to her unscrupulous deeds but was beneficiary too. The mind blowing revelations in the tapes like, Radia telling the leader of industry Tarun Dass as to how she helped Rattan Tata in procuring a bank guarantee and how much Ratan thanked him for the achievement, how Tata was party to Radia manipulating and pleading the case of Raja for being appointed as minister. The extent of influence of Radia is further reflected from the fact that Raja & Kanimohzi are asking favours from her.
In one of the conversations with Rajathi, the wife of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi it is very clear that Tatas have been bribing people in power and their associates. In other conversations Rattan Tata is talking to Radia about their matters before the Supreme Court being listed before (corrupt) the then Chief Justice Of India, which clearly reflects that there was some thing fishy.
In other conversations Rattan Tata instead of showing concern for the system and independence of judiciary is expressing concern about Raja who allegedly tried to influence a high court judge. In few conversations it is clear how Radia used to threaten the press the strongest pillar of democracy to get the reporting in favour of Tatas.
In yet another conversations it is clear that she used to get prior information of the likely ordinances and formation of committee of empowered group of ministers. In other conversations it is clear that she even had access to the draft cabinet notes.
In one of the conversations it is clear that Radia had direct access and influence over PMO. It also reflect the extent of Radia’s influence over the then communication minister A Raja. She confidently claims that Raja will behave himself to assure people dealing with him. She is also fixing meetings with Raja & Kani.
Few portions of the transcript also reflect the informality of Rattan Tata with Radia, which is another circumstance of her playing dirty tricks for him. The influence of Radia over Tatas is further reflected in her conversation with Ranjan Bhattacharya where she claims as to how she saved Unitec in their pending issues with Tatas. The latest expose of Tatas being grilled in 2G Scam about having given loan of Rupees 1700 crore to Unitech seals the issue against them.
The fact that the assets of Radia’s firm grew multifold and she allegedly helped four companies to secure licences must be ordered to be probed to unearth the tax evasion and commission of other cognizable offences. The tapes also disclose that a minister gave rupees six hundred crore to someone, which is a clear case of corruption and needs to be thoroughly investigated.
The transcripts also disclose Radia’s influence over the other national party i.e. BJP and the involvement of important functionaries in that party. It further discloses the extent of influence of Radia that she was even aware of the moves of some of the topBJP leaders even when the other important functionaries had no clue at all.
The spokesman of ruling party made clear allegations of link between Radia and top BJP leaders. He clearly alleged that bank accounts were opened in Switzerland to stash away ill-gotten wealth & cabinet papers were leaked. Interestingly the same spokesman appeared for Amar Singh to prevent publication of his tapes.
One of the conversations between Ranjan Bhattacharya and Radia clearly suggests how a business house feels that union minister Anand Sharma is proprietary. In talks with Tarun Dass it is clearly reflected that the other union minister, Kamal Nath makes fifteen percent to do national service.
In one of the conversations it is clearly reflected as to how Radia and NK Singh a former bureaucrat and Member of Parliament feel that union minister Praful Patel was working for Naresh Goel. The other conversation reflects how Radia prepares dossiers against the ministers to create an atmosphere of terror so that every one falls in line. Praful Patel‘s statement that Radia is an anti social element and economic terrorist is also relevant to be considered.
Former Deputy Prime Minister L.K.Advani expressed serious concern of the common man about the credibility of the government and the confidence with which lobbyist claim as to who should be allotted what portfolio. The opposition leader Sushma Swaraj also expressed concern about the extent of ‘Corporate Influence’ in the light of Radia tapes and even went to the extent of saying, ‘Radia tapes have put a question mark on the very existence of democracy’.
The conversations also reflect how contemptuously Radia talks about the then Chief Justice of India, former judges of this court, other judges and members of tribunal. She also hints at judgments being managed. Radia’s conversation with Tarun Dass further reflect that how the powerful industrial houses choose to align for personal interest against the public interest. One of the conversations clearly reflects how ruthlessly Radia was planning to lobby against the poor farmers to grab their lands.
In one of the conversation some one is informing Radia about the Government’s policy to buy about hundred and fifty thousand crore worth of defence equipment and further that each of the deals would have an upside, top line of twenty to thirty percent. Many conversations recorded clearly disclose commission of serious offences punishable under IPC, Prevention of Corruption Act, Official Secret Act and Income Tax Act.

A Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar referring to the CAG report, which showed that by virtue of dual technology the Tata companies caused a loss of roughly Rupees 19,074.8 crore to the public exchequer made direct allegations against Tatas. He also claimed that the Tata companies had been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the out -of -turn spectrum allegation. Rattan Tata’s letter to Karunanidhi praising corrupt Raja is another proof of his unscrupulous character.
Justice Shivraj Patil Committee report has exposed how the former telecom regulatory authority chief Pradip Baijal and the then department of telecom secretary Vinod Vaish violated the policy to award licences to Tatas. Interestingly one of them joined Radia’s company after retirement.
Surprisingly the Supreme Court does not seem to be interested in the shocking revelations in tapes pertaining to Tata and others. Shockingly the attorney general GE Vahanvati who has been appearing in this matter is one of the people clearly reflected to be corrupt as per the transcript. Radia clearly tells a senior journalist that dual technology TDSAT judgment was procured by Vahanvati and further that Vahanvati had called and personally old them, “Don’t oppose minister, don’t oppose this, we will ensure that you get your spectrum.” He should gracefully resign and recues from appearing in this matter. Vahanvati for obvious reasons is not telling the court about the misdeeds of Tata and others as reflected in the transcripts. By his conduct he is supporting Tata and is not doing his duty as the servant of people of India from whom he draws his salary. Unfortunately some other lawyers are also soft on Tata’s and apart from raising technical objections are not exposing the unscrupulous deeds of Tata as reflected in the tapes.
All these years the humanity has suffered and the dream of framers of the constitution to wipe the last tear from the last eye is no where near realization only because of corruption at higher places of which Radias and Tatas are the symbols today as reflected in the transcripts. It is high time we all including the judges perform all our duties in the light of this fact that corruption is the root cause of miseries of millions of fellow citizens who are not even able to get one square meal a day. Millions have no access to drinking water, basic health facilities and primary education. About twenty lac children die every year within five years of their birth and almost fifty percent of children are malnourished. Even as per government’s own survey about thirty seven percent Indians are living below poverty line and one third of districts are affected by violence. About two hundred and eighty lac crore have been siphoned to tax havens and no sincere efforts are being made by any institution to bring back that money. The real cause of misery to the millions of fellow human beings, who are not able to get even one square meal a day what to talk of a dignified life is rampant corruption, which is at its peak and no institution including the armed forces and judiciary can claim to be unaffected.
The hearing of Tata’s petition (not the petition) raises few important Questions, which every Sensitive Citizen is pondering over, How the sufferings of more than fifty crore fellow citizens not getting one square meal a day and farmers committing suicide are connected with the corrupt and insensitive system? Why the Supreme Court is super sensitive to the reputation of corrupt like Rattan Tata, Radia and others while being insensitive to millions of those going to bed on empty stomach? How the so-called legal eagles have sold their conscience to support the corrupt even at the cost of making humanity suffer perpetually?
The message being conveyed to the public is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court is more sensitive and sympathetic to corrupt whose conversations have been recorded and has so far not considered that the greed of these unscrupulous people is the root cause of perpetual miseries of millions of fellow human beings. The court must consider these facts and the relevant portions of the tapes exposing unscrupulous characters while adjudicating this matter.
The hidden agenda of this petition is not only to protect Tata but also the other unscrupulous in the corrupt political system, which is another parade of the decline of moral values in the system. Harish Salve settled the draft petition, which clearly says that the petitioner is concerned about the privacy of those whose conversations have been recorded. It seems the first paragraph where the petitioner claims violation of his right of privacy is just a ploy to prevent the expose of other corrupt in all walks of life as exposed in the conversations. Salve wrote an article in TOI saying that the Supreme Court must demonstrate will to correct itself but shamelessly pleads for camera proceedings and erasing of tapes. Surely he knows that criminal conspiracies are hatched in secrecy and transparency is the best cure for corruption. Noted citizens from all walks of life have demanded that the tapes be made public.
Unfortunately many so called legal eagles have yet to imbibe the golden words of Mahatma Gandhi who said, “ your profession should be a tool to serve the humanity and you should never make your conscience/profession subservient to your purse’
The bench of Justice Singhvi and Justice Ganguly is doing a great service to the cause of poor by monitoring the investigation into 2G Scam. Both the judges are so sharp and knowledgeable that the other day I enjoyed a sitting in the court in which they decided twenty five matters in twenty five minutes every time quoting the relevant sections from wide range of acts extempore and my little understanding of law says that all those matters were rightly decided. However hearing in Tata’s petition has been suffocating and they don’t seem to be as firm as they ought to be. My firm view is that the petition is liable to be dismissed in view of the judgments of Supreme Court and the law settled on right of privacy versus public. The court should dismiss the petition with heavy cost on Rattan Tata and his counsel Harish salve.
The court should order investigation into the various offences apparently committed as per the conversations recorded, impose a cost of rupees one hundred crore upon Rattan Tata for filing this frivolous petition with a design to save the corrupt who have been exposed in the tapes, this cost can be utilized to provide food and basic necessities to the poorest of the poor village, impose a cost of rupees ten crore upon Tata’s counsel Harish Salve for misguiding Tata to file this frivolous petition and for trying to misguide the court, this cost can be utilized to provide free legal aid to those who can not afford to approach the supreme court because of lack of proper legal help.
“Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan”
Ashok Arora, Former Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association
ashok@ aroraz.com, SMS +919810062089

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