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,
IS SADI MEIN TERE HOTON PER TABASUM KE LAKIR
HASNE WALE TERA PATHAR KA KALEJA HOGA
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,
“WATAN KI FIKR KAR NADAAN MUSIBAT AANE WALI HEIN,
TERI BARBADIYUN KE MASHWARE HEIN AASMANO MEIN
NA SAMJHO GE TO MIT JAOGE AIE HINDUSTAN WALO
TUMAHRI DASTAN TAQ BHI NA HOGI DASTANO MEIN”
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
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Wake Up Call for the Chief Justice of India